NewsSouthern AfricaLittle change in Zimbabwe a year after Mugabe downfall

Tue,18Dec2018

Posted on Wednesday, 21 November 2018 15:28

Little change in Zimbabwe a year after Mugabe downfall

By Reuters
AFPInformal trader Lincoln Chinengundu is frustrated with Zimbabwe's current government and says life has become tougher one year since the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe after an army coup.

The leadership change was hailed as a new political and economic dawn for Zimbabweans, and widely celebrated, but little has changed since last November.

"The previous government under Robert Mugabe was far much better than this one, we all expected things to change for the better but things have gone from bad to worse especially for us informal traders," says Chinengundu, while hanging up clothes at his market stall.

He says business is low, hurt by low customer spending and a difficult economy.

Inflation in the country soared to double digits in October, the highest in a decade after sharp price increases and an acute dollar crunch. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised that the economy will soon recover but said for now Zimbabweans will have to endure some pain.

"A currency crisis, a loss of savings, price hikes everyday...it's a familiar script to Zimbabweans," said economic analyst Alfonce Mbizwo.

Little difference from former mentor

But some young Zimbabweans like Sandisiwe Usumane, who's created a mobile app which allows ordinary citizens to access legal information, are more hopeful.

"I feel things have changed. I feel people feel free to speak their minds. They feel free to express themselves and the youth are participating in start-ups, businesses, technology and we seeking support from the government to help us," the 26-year-old software developer said.

It is on the political front that Mnangagwa has come under the most criticism.

Government's claim that citizens now enjoy more freedoms came unstuck on Aug. 1 when civilians died in an army crackdown on post-election opposition protests, in a throwback to the heavy-handed security responses seen in Mugabe's days.

While last year marchers were pictured hugging soldiers and tanks, a lot of that euphoria is now long gone.

"I think it's fair to say that a lot of people that marched were not marching in support of the army or in support of Mr Mnangagwa, they were marching against Mugabe. Those are two very different considerations; and they were marching for Zimbabwe," says Fadzayi Mahere, a 32-year-old lawyer and politician.

Mahere says Mugabe-era laws, including one that criminalises insulting the president and government's failure to align dozens of laws to a 2013 constitution, is evidence that Mnangagwa has shown little difference with his former mentor.



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