It’s now more than 12 months after the fall of Robert Mugabe, a tyranny who had ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years. Mugabe’s downfall was sweet news to many Zimbabweans who, for three decades felt robbed of their national pride due to the socio-political and economic decay that reduced millions into abject poverty, forcing many to leave the country in search of better livelihoods.
As we speak, a million Zimbabweans are scattered in many parts of the world.
Suffice to say, Mugabe’s reign was a deadly and harmful cocktail of bad governance, corruption, abuse of state resources, the disappearance of the rule of law and an abuse of human rights were violence was the main instrument used by Mugabe for his continued stay in power.
As many Zimbabweans celebrated the fall of Mugabe they did so because they were tired, they had suffered enough under his iron-fist rule and it was not in any way an endorsement of the junta as the Mnangagwa regime would like to claim today. The citizens were not necessarily fed up with, Mugabe as an individual, but rather the system which he cultivated over the years were cronyism and corruption reigned supreme.
However, those who orchestrated the coup were clever to distance themselves from the system, they hid behind the decaying economy attributing to Mugabe as the main culprit. But of course, it would be naïve to separate Mnangagwa and his erstwhile military guys who essentially formed the core of Mugabe’s team from the three decades of plunder and brutality that characterised Mugabe’s rule. If the truth is told, those who orchestrated the coup had no interest to improve the livelihoods of the ordinary Zimbabwean, it was about power and the control of state resources for their own selfish ends.
As if it was not enough, the disputed election led to some demonstrations on the 1st of August 2018 that resulted in the deployment of the army leading the death of 6 people who were shot by the soldiers.
As a result, in a show of ‘reform’ which was in actual fact a Public Relations exercise for the international audience, Mnangagwa set up a commission of enquiry to establish who caused the disturbances of the 1st of August rather than to investigate who deployed the army. And as we witnessed, the commission in itself turned out to be a joke with false testimonies by the army and some party activists calling themselves witnesses and were even lying under oath. For Mnangagwa, he does not care much about the people who died, for him, here was an opportunity to display a ‘reformed’ man, for his audience beyond the oceans.
The country is not moving forward, it’s almost like we are back to the Mugabe era if not worse.
But as we reflect almost 13 months after Mugabe, the situation in our country has indeed reached another level, with a deepening economic crisis that has left millions of Zimbabweans in poverty. at the same time, Mnangagwa’s legitimacy continues to haunt him after allegations of rigging the elections, the economy is soaring with rising inflation, with unprecedented fuel shortages, anti-people fiscal measures which have seen the introduction of dubious tax regimes which are draining the poor man. The austerity measures being implemented by the government as announced by Mthuli Ncube (Finance Minister) in his budget statement are a carbon copy of Benard Chidzero’s Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (at the instigation of the IMF and World Bank) which in any case failed to stimulate the economy as envisaged.
And as we look at Mthuli’s budget it is now clear that there is nothing left for the ordinary as the government tries to please global capital. The tax regimes introduced will pile more pressure on the already tax-burdened public and this will drown Zimbabweans further into abject poverty. With Mugabe now past behind us, it seems we are still in that era, if not in a worse off situation than we were 12 months ago, there is still no equitable access to means and outcomes of production amongst the populace. The country’s economy remains captured by a few elites, particularly the military and politically connected elites who form much of the cartels responsible for the plunder of resources and responsible for price distortion on most of the goods because they essentially control the markets.
Consequently, as we alluded in our response to the budget we recommend a macroeconomic stability programme that is pro-poor, inclusive and human-centred with increased fiscal space, a high degree of competitiveness, a conducive environment for domestic and foreign investments, a strong export economy and high degrees of innovative capability with the State effectively playing its role in the economy by enhancing real sector performance, currency stability and ensuring the financial sector is stable.
In conclusion, it is encouraging to commend the efforts by the opposition and other progressive forces who marched against the economic decay, dubious tax regimes and an anti-poor budget. The march, was a march by a broken citizenry which yearns for a better Zimbabwe. It is thus encouraging that our political parties have finally accepted that there is need for dialogue for the country to move forward, but we hasten to say that although we welcome dialogue, let it be a national dialogue and not a dialogue by political elites who will end up in some elite power-sharing deal as we witnessed in 2008. Any kind of dialogue should be inclusive, transparent and involving all Zimbabweans from different sectorial backgrounds as the basis upon which we can chat a way forward to build consensus as we rebuild this great nation called Zimbabwe.