Mugabe faces electoral rebuke over economy

HARARE – Right about now, Eddie Musonza, a 30-year-old streetwise Harare hustler would normally be oblivious to the politics and would be busy concentrating on how to make his next dollar.

Not this year.

“My brother, for the first time in my life, I am registering to vote. Kuchema kwedu kwanyanya, toda zvichinje (We have suffered enough, we want change)” he told me, quoting a line from Killer T’s monster hit Bvunza Tinzwe.

Four years since Zimbabweans’ decision to give President Robert Mugabe a fresh five-year mandate in the 2013 election, the bond note — launched last November — has surrendered 30 percent of its value against the US dollar, cash is scarce, prices of everything — meat, milk,and so on — is going up. So is fuel, which is now scarce.

Accelerating cash shortages and inflation will deliver one thing, a stunning electoral rebuke of Mugabe and his governing Zanu PF party.

Consumers are grappling with rising prices, and wages have not kept pace. The economy is not even weakening, it’s dying.
Musonza, who has traditionally been unbothered with politics, says this time he will give his support to the MDC Alliance, the conglomeration of opposition parties that has advocated for the end of Mugabe’s disastrous reign which has yielded the indignity at hand.

There is a tumultuous period of political uncertainty now unfolding, what with the president, 93, now incapacitated and suffering mobility impairment. Just look at how he struggled to make it to the podium at the United Nations General Assembly.

As Mugabe tries to hang onto control of the government, a weakening economy is intensifying the sense of grievance among ordinary Zimbabweans who fear a repeat of the 2008-style economic implosion. Zimbabwe is going through pain.

Looks like giving Mugabe and Zanu PF another fresh mandate next year guarantees more problems. Consumer spending makes up nearly two-thirds of Zimbabwean economic activity, meaning the troubles of ordinary people can have decisive influence over the economy — and politics, for that matter. For the average worker, rising prices for everyday consumer goods are landing atop a decade of stagnating wages. The unemployed are struggling to get by.

The hardships have caused more and more people to migrate from rural parts to cities. Others have moved to border towns.
Many women turn up in cities hoping to become traders, hawking clothes or groceries. However, a rising number turn to prostitution.

There is also rising crime.

Mugabe and Zanu PF face rejection from millions of unemployed people and the few working people who have suffered declining wages while watching the country transform into a carnival of wealth for the ruling elite.

Just last week, a financial weekly reported that First Lady Grace Mugabe’s first born son, Russell Goreraza, 33, and his business partner Valentine Gaucho, imported seven top-of-the-range vehicles worth about $2,5 million, at a time the economy is tanking.

Apparently Goreraza has already imported two Rolls Royce limousines — one for Gaucho and the other for himself — after receiving two 2017 Range Rovers and two Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan cars. A top-of-the-range Aston Martin is on its way.

If this profligacy continues amid this sea of poverty, there will be miserable showing for Mugabe and Zanu PF in next year’s polls. Mugabe’s handling of the economy has caused particular frustration, with the country now plagued by stagnation and crippling unemployment, which affects over a quarter of working-age Zimbabweans and disproportionately its young people.

There is also anger about widespread inequality. Many Zimbabweans are dissatisfied with their economic lot, and another five years of these hardships is just too ghastly to contemplate.

There is serious belt-tightening, families economising, forgoing their basics like eggs for breakfast for avocados.

For decades, Zanu PF has claimed an unshakeable dominance of Zimbabwean politics, entering elections with an expectation of victory that critics say has contributed to stagnation and corruption, but this time they face a different kettle of fish. – Daily News

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