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Strongmen Politics Killing Zimbabwe’s Economy

Harare – Strongmen politics is stifling Zimbabwe’s economic recovery efforts, ENN reports. On Wednesday, the international community and human rights advocates issued solidarity statements to the people of Zimbabwe, denouncing the Zimbabwe Republic Police for using brute force against its citizens.

Opposition party supporters who had gathered at the MDC Headquarters in Harare on Wednesday to listen to a speech by their leader Nelson Chamisa dubbed Hope of Nation Address (HONA) were beaten by the Police. Innocent civilians were casualties in this violence. Since the occasion of the disputed 2018 presidential election results, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which falls under the command of the President has on several occasions used brute force to disperse demonstrations and gatherings by the country’s main opposition party – MDC Alliance.  

 With an estimated population of 16 million and an estimated GDP of US$3.6 billion in year 2020, Zimbabwe is a small country by global standards. Endowed with rich natural resources and an educated populace, it sounds impossible to believe that this once prosperous jewel of Africa is in a serious economic crisis that has collapsed its national health, water, education and energy systems. Farmers and industries are struggling with input and raw material costs, as the country’s financial services system continues to mal-function, leading to high inflation. Long fuel and bank queues are an order of the day in Zimbabwe.

The United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Peter Nagy called on the Government of Zimbabwe to cease such violence against its own people. “We note that the passage of new legislation has had no impact on the actions of the Government of Zimbabwe’s respect of freedom of assembly and other rights”, Nagy further said, imploring the Zimbabwe Government to respect its 2013 Constitution in permitting non-violent public gatherings. This statement comes barely a week after South Africa urged Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa to dialogue and free Zimbabwe’s economy from a toxic political trap which has isolated the country from the international community. South Africa International Relations and Co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said Zimbabwe had a political and economic crisis caused by the antipathy between its political leaders. “The political dynamics that we observe are inexplicably linked to the economic solutions and that the politics and the economic as well as the social need to be confronted simultaneously,” said Pandor.

It is important to emphasise that investors can no longer isolate Zimbabwe’s political squabbles from their business operations. For the third quarter of 2019, leading businesses in Zimbabwe recorded average performance declines of 30%, citing low consumer disposable incomes, low production, high operating costs, economic policy inconsistencies and country risk as major factors threatening the viability of their operations. Before blaming sanctions for its economic ills, Zimbabwe needs to inclusively fix its internal politics first. Before blaming unpatriotic citizens for giving Zimbabwe bad national publicity, Zimbabwe’s leadership needs emotional intelligence to live by the dictates of the national constitution. Before blaming climate change and foreign currency challenges for its energy challenges, Zimbabwe must deal decisively with corruption. Lastly, without an inclusive political solution and an empowered citizenry, Zimbabwe will not recover from its economic crisis.