‘…economy needs policies not guns’
GOVERNMENT is in panic mode and fears an uprising hence resorting to using the police, military and other security organs as a section of Zimbabweans push for economic order, with analysts predicting more trouble if the regime does not address key issues.
Civil society and students planned a national shutdown this week that was largely unheeded although heavily armed police and military personal also played a role in its failure.
There were reports that the Joint Operations Command (Joc) held a number of meetings last week plotting how to block the planned shutdown they feared had the potential to degenerate into anti-President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime protests.
Ahead of the shutdown, Mnangagwa announced measures he said were meant to put back the decaying economy on a sound footing.
Among the measures announced, the President stopped banks from lending, a development observers described as desperate and an indication Zimbabwe was sliding back to the pre-2008 scenario when the late former president Robert Mugabe resorted to repressive policy pronouncements through former governor Gideon Gono.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the reaction by the regime to threats of a protest exposed a jittery government which is afraid of its people who are genuinely unhappy with its failure to deliver on its promises.
“The overboard reaction by Mnangagwa on this internet kind of call by the students and health workers that there was going to be a stayaway simply shows that this government is very jittery and lacking confidence and this is to be expected because there have done nothing to improve people’s livelihoods,” Mukundu said.
“They are very much aware that their leadership is treading on shaky grounds over failure to deliver on developmental needs of Zimbabwe so any voice that calls for protests for expression of concern is viewed seriously not so much on basis of threat that any such call poses but more so on the basis of realisation by Mnangagwa that he has largely failed the people of Zimbabwe and bringing in soldiers is indication of a government lacking confidence and that was shown also in the manner they want to control the exchange rate and banks in a manner that makes no sense at all.
“Stopping banks from lending makes no economic sense and that reaction will cripple economic recovery in the foreseeable future. We face a kleptocratic government afraid and jittery of its own people and they know they have done nothing to promote the livelihoods of those people.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Blessing Vava said the government has shown desperation and now resorting to the use of force.
“It shows a desperate and clueless government that has run out of ideas. They believe in the use of force and ammunition but the economy does not need guns. They must address the politics and do what is right,” Vava said.
“We need sound economic policies that speak to the aspirations of Zimbabweans. Above all, what we witnessed last week is a government in panic and afraid of facing is own challenges that’s why they resort to violence.”
Lawyer Obey Shava took to microblogging site Twitter, saying measures introduced by Mnangagwa were illegal, a sign observers insisted was confirmation of desperation.
“I understand that currently, there is no law giving effect to the President’s national announcement of May 7, 2022. Banks are not legally obliged to act upon this RBZ directive. In case I missed it, kindly help,” Shava said.
Ringisai Chikohomero, a research consultant at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, told Bloomberg this week that the move by Mnangagwa was “an attempt to deal with the wrong end of the problem.”
“The government is assuming that lending is fueling money supply and consequently local currency depreciation. That’s misplaced. Clearly the measures are detrimental to the banking sector,” he said.
Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics, said of the measures: “ZW$400 for the first time in history, the Zimbabwe dollar is nosediving. Mnangagwa has lost his mind and suspended all bank lending, ensuring a complete wipeout of Zimbabwe’s banking system. Mnangagwa has long been an encyclopedia of economic stupidity. Now you see why.”