Home and away: Zimbabweans believe there is more to economic crisis

A Zimbabwean walks with his shopping in a trolley because he cannot afford a bus fare home, Harare, September 14, 2008. PHOTO | ALEXANDER JOE | AFP

Besieged Zimbabwe notched the backing of neighbours South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, the SADC and the African Union ahead of last week’s anti-sanctions march, ironically snubbed by its own citizens.

At a time Zimbabwe is faced with the worst-ever food insecurity, a collapsed healthcare system and a dysfunctional financial sector, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government splashed $4 million for the march on October 25.

The march was snubbed by its own citizens, in sharp contrast to choreographed calls by the SADC led by its chairman, Tanzania President John Magufuli, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament and China for the immediate and unconditional lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The opposition Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa blamed the government for the renewal of the sanctions.

“The sanctions are meant to whip the military government into line. The government must stop whining and be responsible for its actions, reform and observe human rights before complaining against sanctions,” said Mr maphosa.

In August US President Donald Trump signed sanctions into law after Harare failed to embrace electoral reforms demanded by the United States.

Main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa termed the crusade against sanctions a propaganda effort aimed at masking the country’s “failed leadership.”

In social media group discussions, Zimbabwean’s were polarised on whether sanctions or corruption was the main cause of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown. Businesses say they can longer get money at affordable interest rates, especially from offshore lenders.

Zimbabwe was slapped with a series of ‘targeted measures’ by the EU, the US, and later Australia, New Zealand and Canada following the late President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms that saw the settler community worse off. The sanctions targeted travel and assets of individuals close to Mugabe.

According to International Crisis Group’s senior consultant for southern Africa, Piers Pigou, the sanctions arose from serious electoral irregularities and human rights abuses.

Other analysts, however, say the actual trigger was the land invasions that saw thousands of white farmers lose their farms to Zimbabwe’s business and political elites.

Whether it is because of sanctions, corruption or incompetence, all agree that Zimbabwe is in a tight spot.

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