Hopes that Mnangagwa, who replaced longtime leader, the late Robert Mugabe, toppled by his army chiefs in November 2017, could attract investment and improve the economy have faded while critics accuse him of deepening repression after the abductions and torture of MDC Alliance activists by security agents last month.
With 314 confirmed infections of the deadly coronavirus, the outbreak is seen wreaking more havoc on the economy, which is already struggling from the effects of a devastating drought and Cyclone Idai which occurred in 2019, high inflation and a currency crisis.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, in a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, said Mnangagwa would soon proclaim a day for national prayer and fasting.
“We wish to advise that His Excellency the President is set to officially announce a day of fasting and national prayer,” she said.
Mnangagwa’s call for a prayer and fasting day came weeks after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor John Mangudya told Parliament that the economy was under demonic attacks and needed prayers.
Annualised inflation has risen sharply since the turn of the year to 765,57% in April, while the Zimdollar continues to devalue on the parallel market to US$1:$80, forcing the central bank to abandon its artificial exchange rate of US$1:$25 early this week.
Mnangagwa is also under pressure from government workers who are demanding to be paid in US dollars due to the skyrocketing prices of commodities.
In recent times, government has also held a national day of prayer against sanctions.
Mutsvangwa said the prayer and fasting would likely to be done from the safety and comfort of people’s homes owing to COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Cabinet also decided to move reopening of schools from June 29 to July 28, saying this would allow Treasury time to disburse resources to schools.
“In line with His Excellency the President’s decision that schools should start re-opening, Cabinet resolved that the re-opening of schools be moved from the proposed June 29, 2020 to July 28, 2020 to allow the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to engage Treasury and other stakeholders to mobilise for provision of adequate resources,” Mutsvangwa said.
The moving of schools re-opening dates does not affect the June examinations which will be written from June 29 to July 22.
In the wake of increased cases of COVID-19 in quarantine centres, Cabinet yesterday resolved to confiscate travel documents from returnees so that they will not escape from the centres.
“In order to curtail the prevalence of people absconding from quarantine centres, Cabinet agreed that identification/travel documents be collected from returnees on arrival and returned to them at the end of the quarantine period,” Mutsvangwa said.
Returnees have been fleeing from quarantine centres citing poor living conditions.