🔒 Zimbabwe heads for Venezuela-style meltdown – FT

EDINBURGH — For many Zimbabweans, life couldn’t be worse than under President Robert Mugabe – which is why they cheered in the streets when a light-touch military coup pushed Mugabe out of power in 2017, opening the way for Emmerson Mnangagwa. The new president was known for being linked to genocide, but onlookers were happy to give him the benefit of the doubt when it came to getting Zimbabwe back on track. But Mnangagwa has failed quickly in his role as president and it hasn’t taken long for stories of citizens being brutalised by the authorities to emerge. Influential business newspaper the Financial Times has assessed developments in Zimbabwe, coming to the conclusion that things are going to get a lot worse. Expect a Venezuela-style meltdown and severe hardship for its people as thugs clutch onto power. – Jackie Cameron

By Thulasizwe Sithole

The editorial board of the Financial Times has published a scathing overview of Zimbabwe, predicting that it is heading for a Venezuela-style meltdown. Worryingly, there are no signs that there could be an improvement in the economic situation without a radical political overhaul – and that seems unlikely.

The FT board says the president of Zimbabwe would like the world to know he is shocked. “After Sky News broadcast footage this week of soldiers beating an unarmed man in the street, Emmerson Mnangagwa tweeted that he was ‘appalled’. ‘I have instructed that the individuals behind this be arrested,’” he added.

It is unclear, says the FT, whether Mr Mnangagwa has watched Casablanca, the 1942 film in which Captain Louis Renault, the corrupt Vichy prefect of police, feigns shock at the gambling in Rick’s Bar.


“Like Renault, who cheats at the roulette wheel himself, Zimbabwe’s president is perfectly familiar with the violence and intimidation routinely meted out by the state apparatus.

“Far from being an aberration, thuggery is Zanu-PF’s stock in trade.

“As former president Robert Mugabe’s enforcer for nearly four decades, Mr Mnangagwa was the one who perfected it,” the London-headquartered newspaper continues.

The recent violence stems from a slow-motion economic collapse, explain the FT editors.

Zim all set? More of Zapiro’s brilliant cartoon work available at www.zapiro.com.

“The country – which has no currency of its own after hyperinflation destroyed the Zimbabwe dollar a decade ago – has stopped generating the export dollars it needs to survive. It depends almost entirely on remittances from millions of Zimbabweans forced to seek a living abroad.

“The central bank has run out of dollars, forcing it to pump out ever more of the electronic money that passes for a currency. Another bout of hyperinflation beckons.

“Zimbabwe appears to be heading for a Venezuela-style meltdown. The World Food Programme worries that 8m of the estimated 14m-16m population face food insecurity,” continues the FT.

Some 38 years of theft and incompetence by Zanu-PF have brought the breadbasket of southern Africa to this, it says.

“The international community is caught in a bind.

“There is no appetite to engage with a government that has shown itself to be as bad as that of the Mugabe era. How could it justify propping up a vicious regime, knowing that much of the money it handed over would be stolen?

“Yet the alternative is equally appalling: allowing the economic situation to get so grim that Zanu-PF implodes. There is no guarantee that regime change by attrition – even possible starvation – will work.

“As for Zanu-PF, it is locked in infighting.”

The FT picks up on rumours that General Constantino Chiwenga, deputy president and the man who led the 2017 coup, wants to push Mnangagwa out.

“Much of the feud seems to be over control of moneymaking rackets. Even if you credit Mr Mnangagwa with a genuine desire to reform the economy, his efforts have come to naught. If anything, reform has made things worse.

“There is simply no money left. Cutting expenditure further will lead to collapse. So will printing money. Without an injection of outside money, there is no way out.

“The only possible solution is to form a government of national unity with which the international community could engage. An injection of money and a new programme monitored by the IMF could begin to restore economic credibility.”

For the FT, lifting sanctions, in place since 2001, is not a bad idea.

“They have little effect, but give incompetent and corrupt Zanu-PF officials a scapegoat for economic catastrophe.”

However, “the chances of such an accommodation with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are slim to non-existent. Far from reaching out, Zanu-PF has hunted down many MDC members and locked them up”.

The alternative is that things will get worse before they eventually get better, warns the FT.

“Zimbabwe’s educated people could be participating in one of the most dynamic economies on the continent.

“Instead, they are witnessing an implosion,” it adds.

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