A NEW ZIMBABWE? (November 2017)
On the 21st of November 2017, Robert Mugabe, after a 37 years long rule announced his resignation.
Following his sacking of his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the army made its way towards Harare, and placed him under house arrest. After a few tense days in the Zimbabwean Capital, the news of Mugabe’s resignation was acclaimed by all zimbabweans. People came to the street to celebrate, civilians and soldiers alike.
The whole country was in a state of euphoria as they celebrated their second independance.
On November 24th 2017, three days after the resignation of Robert Mugabe, former defense chief Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in at Harare’s National Sport Stadium, in front of a crowd of more than 70 000 people.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, popularly known by his nickname The Crocodile is only the second president of Zimbabwe since it’s independence in 1980.
People rejoiced and cheered as he vowed to restore democracy to the southern african nation.
The euphoria brought by the resignation of Mugabe and the hope for change was heavy in the streets of Harare, but despite the rush of the moment, many zimbabweans were very skeptical regarding the future of the country.
Emerson Mnangagwa and General Chiwenga, the military commander who put Robert Mugabe under house arrest, have both always been very close to the former president and played key roles in maintaining him in power.
Ngwena (the crocodile in Shona) and Chiwenga both took part in the Gukuragundi (a series of massacres of Ndebele civilians carried out by the Zimbabwean National Army in the 1980’s) as well as the severe repression of opposition members after the 2000 elections.
As a Zimbabwean told me in Harare :
« we might have jumped from the frying pan straight into the fire! We all hope for the best but have to prepare for the worst. »
With an unemployment rate of 90%, Zimbabweans rely mostly on the informal sector. With the fall of Mugabe and the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, hailing the arrival of a new democracy, the primary concern of most of the citizens is the economy. ⠀
Since the early 2000’s Zimbabwe has suffered from hyper inflation forcing the country to abandon its currency, first for the South African Rand and then for the US dollar. Because of impossibility to print the money in the country, Zimbabwe now resorted to make a new system, the bond notes, based on a parity with the us dollar. But in reality it is very different. Lack of the currency is making it very hard for Zimbabweans, and the country is resorting to the use of plastic money and eco cash(a cellphone based money transfer system). The bond notes value, which is supposed to be equivalent to that of the us dollar is sinking.
Prices in the street vary wether you use american dollars, bond notes, ecocash or other forms of plastic money, and a black market of money changing is growing in the streets of Harare. « We need to go back to the US $ until we can get a real Zimbabwean currency. We re tired of this fake money »
Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates on the African continent. Most Zimbabweans are highly educated, but can’t find jobs once they graduate. Many nurses and doctors are left without a job and most hospitals don’t have any drugs and means to properly treat patients
« Mugabe built universities, schools, clinics, hospitals everywhere in the country. Education was his biggest success but how good is it to have so many educated people when there is no jobs? »
90 % of Zimbabweans are unemployed, and have to rely on the informal sector of the economy. Out of the 10% employed many owe their jobs to connections.
International sanctions, rampant corruption and the collapse of the currency (time and time again) all contributed to making life harder and harder for Zimbabweans. During the political transition the primary concern of the citizens was and still is the economy and at its forefront the issue of the currency.
One vendor of Mupedza Nhamo (a second hand clothing and shoes market in the high density suburb of Mbare) told me: "We now need a common purpose to move Zimbabwe forward. The first thing we need to do is end this bond currency !"