Since he swept to power on the back of a military coup in 2017, the economy has fared dismally, ruined by runaway inflation and a weakening domestic currency.
At the time of the 2017 coup, civil servants were earning an average of US$540 per month, but on Mnangagwa’s watch the government workers now get an average of US$265, not enough to meet basic needs.
In 2017, the average price of two litres of cooking oil was US$2.50 but now the price is over US$5.50. Mealie-meal prices have also soared, with a 10 kilogramme pack now costing about US$10, up from US$4.50 in 2017 when Mnangagwa’s “new dispensation” took over.
A crate of eggs under the late former president Robert Mugabe’s government cost US$3, but the price has now doubled.
The cost of essential services has also increased on Mnangagwa’s watch. In a recent survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), the poor, whose livelihoods have been severely affected in the last four years, said they no longer trust that the current government will change their lives.
“Majority rank economic management and unemployment as the most important problems that government should address,” the report reads.
“Almost three-quarters (72%) of citizens say the country is going in the wrong direction. The view that the country is heading in the wrong direction is most pronounced among citizens experiencing high lived poverty (87%).”
Those interviewed said the government was performing badly in addressing the economic crisis characterised by the failure to address prices that have seen many failing to afford basic commodities and decent meals.
“By large majorities, Zimbabweans say the government is performing ‘fairly badly’ or ‘very badly’ on key economic issues, including: Keeping prices stable (87%) Creating jobs (86%) Narrowing gaps between rich and poor (79%).”
There has been a steady increase in prices of basic commodities, with manufacturers and importers pushing up wholesale prices while also switching to parallel market exchange rates for imported materials.
The government has promised to come up with measures to address the economic crisis, including the imposition of the inter-bank exchange rate, but observers have warned that such a move will have dire consequences including shortages of goods in supermarkets.