Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, has died. Mugabe was 95, and had been struggling with ill health for some time. The country’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Mugabe’s death on Twitter on September 6:
The responses to Mnangagwa’s announcement were immediate and widely varied. Some hailed Mugabe as a liberation hero. Others dismissed him as a “monster”. This suggests that Mugabe will be as divisive a figure in death as he was in life.
The official mantra of the Zimbabwe government and its Zimbabwe African National Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) will emphasise his leadership of the struggle to overthrow Ian Smith’s racist settler regime in what was then Rhodesia. It will also extol his subsequent championing of the seizure of white-owned farms and the return of land into African hands.
In contrast, critics will highlight how – after initially preaching racial reconciliation after the liberation war in December 1979 – Mugabe threw away the promise of the early independence years. He did this in several ways, among them a brutal clampdown on political opposition in Matabeleland in the 1980s, and Zanu-PF’s systematic rigging of elections to keep he and his cronies in power.
Inevitably, the focus will primarily be on his domestic record. Yet many of those who will sing his praises as a hero of African nationalism will be from elsewhere on the continent. So where should we place Mugabe among the pantheon of African nationalists who led their countries to independence?
Slide into despotism
Most African countries have been independent of colonial rule for half a century or more.
The early African nationalist leaders were often regarded as gods at independence. Yet they very quickly came to be perceived as having feet of very heavy clay.
Nationalist leaders symbolised African freedom and liberation. But few were to prove genuinely tolerant of democracy and diversity. One party rule, nominally in the name of “the people”, became widespread. In some cases, it was linked to interesting experiments in one-party democracy, as seen in Tanzania under Julius Nyerere and Zambia under Kenneth Kaunda.
In Zimbabwe’s case, Mugabe proved unable to shift the country, as he had wished, to one-partyism. However, this did not prevent Zanu-PF becoming increasingly intolerant over the years in response to both economic crisis and rising opposition. Successive elections were shamelessly perverted.
When, despite this, Zanu-PF lost control of parliament in 2008, it responded by rigging the presidential election in a campaign of unforgivable brutality. Under Mugabe, the potential for democracy was snuffed out by a brutal despotism.
A wasted inheritance
Whether the economic policies they pursued were ostensibly capitalist or socialist, the early African nationalist leaders presided over rapid economic decline, following an initial period of relative prosperity after independence.
In retrospect, it’s widely recognised that the challenges they faced were immense. Most post-colonial economies were underdeveloped and depended upon the export of a small number of agricultural or mineral commodities. From the 1970s, growth was crowded out by the International Monetary Fund demanding that mounting debts be surmounted through the pursuit of structural adjustment programmes. This hindered spending on infrastructure as well as social services and education and swelled political discontent.
In contrast, Mugabe inherited a viable, relatively broad-based economy that included substantial industrial and prosperous commercial agricultural sectors. Even though these were largely white controlled, there was far greater potential for development than in most other post-colonial African countries.
But, through massive corruption and mismanagement, his government threw that potential away. He also presided over a disastrous downward spiral of the economy, which saw both industry and commercial agriculture collapse. The economy has never recovered and remains in a state of acute and persistent crisis today.
On the political front, the rule of some leaders – like Milton Obote in Uganda and Siad Barre in Somalia – created so much conflict that coups and crises drove their countries into civil war. Zimbabwe under Mugabe was spared this fate – but perhaps only because the political opposition in Matabeleland in the 1980s was so brutalised after up to 30 000 people were killed, that they shrank from more conflict. Peace, then, was merely the absence of outright war.
Some leaders, notably Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, are still revered for their commitments to national independence and African unity. This is despite the fact that, domestically, their records were marked by failure. By 1966, when Nkrumah was displaced by a military coup, his one-party rule had become politically corrupt and repressive.
Despite this, Nyerere always retained his reputation for personal integrity and commitment to African development. Both Nkrumah’s and Nyerere’s ideas continue to inspire younger generations of political activists, while other post-independence leaders’ names are largely forgotten.
Will Mugabe be similarly feted by later generations? Will the enormous flaws of his rule be forgotten amid celebrations of his unique role in the liberation of southern Africa as a whole?
A Greek tragedy
The problem for pan-Africanist historians who rush to praise Mugabe is that they will need to repudiate the contrary view of the millions of Zimbabweans who have suffered under his rule or have fled the country to escape it. He contributed no political ideas that have lasted. He inherited the benefits as well as the costs of settler rule but reduced his country to penury. He destroyed the best of its institutional inheritance, notably an efficient civil service, which could have been put to good use for all.
The cynics would say that the reputation of Patrice Lumumba, as an African revolutionary and fighter for Congolese unity has lasted because he was assassinated in 1961. In other words, he had the historical good fortune to die young, without the burden of having made major and grievous mistakes.
In contrast, there are many who would say that Mugabe simply lived too long, and his life was one of Greek tragedy: his early promise and virtue marked him out as popular hero, but he died a monster whom history will condemn.
Robert Mugabe, the African revolutionary hero who liberated his country from white rule but then turned the new, independent nation of Zimbabwe into his personal fiefdom and a virtual one-party state during his 37-year reign, has died, the country's current president said on Friday. Mugabe was 95.
"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," Mugabe's successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, posted on his official Twitter account.
Mugabe was forced out of power by a military coup in 2017. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed, but Mugabe had long battled health issues.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born into poverty in 1924 in what was then Southern Rhodesia, a British colony named after the notorious colonialist Cecil John Rhodes. Like neighboring South Africa, Rhodesia was allowed self-rule, but under a brutal system run by the white minority.
Mugabe was educated in Catholic missionary schools and became a teacher in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. He later lived in Ghana when that country became the first African nation granted independence from Britain in 1957. He returned to Southern Rhodesia in 1960. Five years later the country's white rulers broke away from their British overlords in order to keep power and renamed the country Rhodesia.
Mugabe was one of the founders of a revolutionary political party in Rhodesia called the Zimbabwe African National Union, or ZANU-PF. His actions led to him being imprisoned in 1964 without trial. He served 11 years behind bars, but while in prison, he was chosen as president of ZANU-PF.
After his release, he directed guerrilla warfare efforts against Rhodesia's white government from exile in Mozambique.
Mugabe became known as a skilled negotiator during his time in exile, according to BBC News.
He made a name for himself during the independence movement, and Mugabe's ZANU-PF won an overwhelming majority in the first free elections in what had been officially renamed Zimbabwe in 1980. Mugabe then became the country's first post-independence prime minister.
"The phase we are entering, the phase of independence should be regarded as a phase conferring upon all of us — the people of Zimbabwe — whether we are black or white — full sovereignty, full democratic rights," Mugabe said in 1980.
Zimbabwe seemed to have a promising future, but bitter divisions remained. Mugabe soon moved to consolidate his ZANU-PF party's hold on the country, crushing his opponents in a brutal crackdown in which thousands of people were killed. He altered the constitution in 1987 to make himself president.
Although Mugabe initially invested heavily in social programs, including education and health, Zimbabwe's fortunes turned dramatically over the next decade. Mugabe blamed the white farmers, who remained in the country after the civil war, for economic malaise, and a vote was ordered to alter the constitution so the government could confiscate white-owned farms. The referendum was defeated, but Mugabe ordered his followers to carry out the farm seizures anyway.
Between 2000 and 2001, more than 1,000 farms were seized, Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" reported at the time. A group of Mugabe's followers called the "war veterans" drove the white farm owners off their land, wrecked homes and barns, killed livestock and then left the land fallow.
"The white farmer is the crudest of the whites in this country," Mugabe told Kroft, "the most backwater in terms of enlightenment and education."
The wife of one white farmer who was forced to drink diesel fuel before being shot blamed Mugabe for her husband's murder.
"Why?" Mugabe asked Kroft during the interview. "I wasn't there, I didn't give instructions to anyone."
The farm seizures led to condemnation by the international community, and loans to Zimbabwe were banned. Once known as the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe's farming industry collapsed and the country descended into desperate poverty.
A rival group, the Movement for Democratic Change, grew in power and won a majority in the first round of elections in 2008. But its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out of the runoff after violence that left an estimated 200 people dead, according to NPR.
But through the chaos Mugabe lost some of his grip on power. The U.S., EU and many of his fellow African leaders tried to pressure him into leaving. In a defiant speech before Parliament in 2008, Mugabe claimed the international criticism, which extended to his handling of a vicious cholera epidemic, was a "pack of lies," and vowed he would not be intimidated into leaving.
"I will never, never, never surrender," he said. "Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans."
In 2009 he was forced to agree to a power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai, but he managed to keep most of the power for himself. The economy went into free-fall. Unemployment soared and diseases were rampant. The Zimbabwe dollar was being printed in denominations of billions amid astronomical inflation.
Mugabe insisted he had won a clear victory in a contested 2013 election, and ended the power-sharing agreement. But his grip on power only lasted a few more years. He was finally ousted when his longtime allies, the country's military commanders, turned against him amid concerns he was setting up his wife, Grace, as his successor.
Mugabe had battled a number of health problems in recent years, and was receiving medical treatment in Singapore when he died. He had been there since April.
Mugabe once insisted he would never retire or go into exile. "I fought for Zimbabwe, and when I die I will be buried in Zimbabwe, nowhere else," he said in 2003.
Credit: CBS News
Zimbabwean public sector doctors went on strike on Tuesday for the second time in less than a year to demand a further salary increase amid soaring living costs, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government struggles with a deteriorating economy.
Zimbabwe is mired in its worst economic crisis in a decade, with triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars, basic goods, medicines and fuel that have revived memories of the hyperinflation that forced it to ditch its currency in 2009.
Mnangagwa’s government has proposed big pay rises for doctors and other public sector workers in an attempt to avert crippling strikes. Police have banned a series of protests called by the opposition in major cities and have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.
The main unions representing doctors and teachers, who make up the bulk of public service workers, said they had rejected the government’s salary offers, which would see the lowest paid worker earning 1,023 Zimbabwe dollars ($90.45) a month.
The doctors accepted their 60% pay increase but said it was not sufficient to avert the strike action. The teachers are not currently on strike.
The doctors are looking for another 401% pay hike that they want indexed to the U.S. dollar.
“We met with the government representatives yesterday and they promised to expedite other allowances for health personnel but so far it has just been empty promises,” the head of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), Peter Magombeyi, told Reuters.
“They have taken us for granted for too long, but we are ready to go back to work as soon as they offer us something tangible, which has not been forthcoming so far.”
“ASSESSING THE SITUATION”
At the turn of the year, junior doctors held a 40-day strike for better pay and conditions that crippled public hospitals. It ended without a deal being reached and with doctors threatening further stoppages.
Most junior doctors stayed away on Tuesday at the largest two public hospitals, Parirenyatwa and Harare Central, a Reuters witness said.
A few junior doctors turned up to work, but said they would not report for work on Wednesday. Some senior doctors also said they would join the strike.
“Today we were assessing the situation but we are not coming in tomorrow(Today). The strike will be in full swing,” a junior doctor at Harare Central Hospital told Reuters.
The Health Services Board (HSB), which represents the government, said in a statement late on Monday that it was surprised the doctors were taking strike action despite accepting the earlier pay offer.
ZHDA wants wages, which were previously pegged to the U.S. dollar, to be paid at the prevailing inter-bank market rate and says its members can no longer afford to report for duty due to surging inflation and the deterioration in the economy.
Their current salaries are worth less than 10% of what they were before the peg was scrapped due to high inflation.
Zimbabwe dollar is trading at 11.31 against the U.S. dollar in the interbank market and 13.10 in the black market. Both rates are used to buy goods.
Zimbabwe’s first Billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has come out to say he doesn’t own Econet. Strive explained Econet is a public trading company with tens of thousands of shareholders.
Strive explained he is just the largest single shareholder. Strive also said many people struggled to separate institutions and corporate structures and only saw a person and he called that a “BigMan” idea.
Writing on his Facebook Strive said:
I have never personally held more than 50%, since (Econet) was listed. So I actually don’t own the company. I’m simply the largest single shareholder But) you will still find even media people saying of a public listed entity ‘the Strive Masiyiwa-owned business’.
And some will even ask me to intervene on things I have no idea about, and should not be expected to know. They never shook away the BigMan idea developed when they were young. Many of us simply struggle to see institutions and corporate structures, and only see a person.
Since the November 2017 coup that toppled Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the elections in 2018, the regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has forged two forms of rule. These have been based on coercion on the one hand, and on the other dialogue.
Following the 2018 general elections and the violence that marked its aftermath, the Mnangagwa regime once again resorted to coercion in the face of the protests in January 2019. The protests were in response to the deepening economic crisis in the country, and part of the opposition strategy to contest the legitimacy of the government.
The response of the state to the protests was swift and brutal. Seventeen people were killed and 954 jailed nationwide. In May the state turned its attention to civic leaders, arresting seven for “subverting” a constitutional government. The repressive state response was felt once again on 16 and 19 August, when the main opposition Movement for Democratic Chance (MDC) and civic activists were once again prevented from marching against the rapid deterioration of Zimbabwe’s economy.
These coercive acts represent a continuation of the violence and brutality of the Mugabe era.
At the same time Mnangagwa has pursued his objective of global re-engagement and selective national dialogue. This is in line with the narrative that has characterised the post-coup regime.
In tracking the dialogue strategy of the Mnangagwa government, it is apparent that it was no accident that key elements of it were set in motion in the same period as the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a new staff monitored programme.
The purported objective is to move the Zimbabwe Government towards an economic stabilisation programme. This would result in a more balanced budget, in a context in which excessive printing of money, rampant issuing of treasury bills and high inflation, were the hallmarks of Mugabe’s economic policies.
The dialogue initiatives also took place in the context of renewed discussions on re-engagement with the European Union (EU) in June this year.
But, Mnangagwa’s strategy of coercion and dialogue has hit a series of hurdles. These include the continued opposition by the MDC. Another is the on-going scepticism of the international players about the regime’s so-called reformist narrative.
Mnangagwa has launched four dialogue initiatives.
Political Actors: This involves about 17 political parties that participated in the 2018 elections. They all have negligible electoral support and are not represented in parliament. The purported intent is to build a national political consensus. The main opposition party, the MDC, boycotted the dialogue, dismissing it as a public relations exercise controlled by the ruling Zanu-PF.
The Presidential Advisory Council: This was established in January to provide ideas and suggestions on key reforms and measures needed to improve the investment and business climate for economic recovery. This body is largely composed of Mnangagwa allies.
The Matabeleland collective: This is aimed at building consensus and an effective social movement in Matabeleland to influence national and regional policy in support of healing, peace and reconciliation in this region. But it has come in for some criticisms. One is that it has been drawn into Mnangagwa’s attempt to control the narrative around the Gukurahundi massacres. These claimed an estimated 20 000 victims in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the early 1980’s. Another criticism is that it has exacerbated the divisions within an already weakened civic movement by regionalising what should be viewed as the national issue of the Gukurahundi state violence.
The Tripartite National Forum. This was launched in June, 20 years after it was first suggested by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The functions of this body set out in an Act of Parliament, include the requirement to consult and negotiate over social and economic issues and submit recommendations to Cabinet; negotiate a social contract; and generate and promote a shared national socio-economic vision.
The establishment of the forum could provide a good platform for debate and consensus. But there are dangers. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions warned of the long history of the lack of “broad based consultation on past development programmes”. It insists that
reforms must never be deemed as tantamount to erosion of workers’ rights.
In assessing the central objectives of the various strands of Mnangagwa’s dialogue strategy, three factors stand out.
The first is that the Political Actors Dialogue, the Presidential Advisory Council and the Matabeleland Collective were developed to control the pace and narrative around the process of partnership with those players considered “reliable”. Major opposition and civic forces that continued to question the legitimacy of the Mnangagwa boycotted these processes.
Secondly, the formal establishment of the long awaited Tripartite National Forum may serve the purpose of locking the MDC’s major political ally, the Zimbabwe Council of Trade Unions, into a legally constructed economic consensus. The major parameters of this will likely be determined by the macro-economic stabalisation framework of the IMF programme.
When brought together, all these processes place increased pressure on the political opposition to move towards an acceptance of the legitimacy of the Mnangagwa regime, and into a new political consensus dominated by the ruling Zanu-PF’s political and military forces, thus earning them the seal of approval by major international forces.
The MDC has responded with a combined strategy of denying Mnangagwa legitimacy, protests as well as calls for continued global and regional pressure. The MDC believes that the continued decline of the economy will eventually end the dominance of the Mnangagwa regime.
As part of its 2018 election campaign, the MDC made it clear it would accept no other result than a victory for itself and Chamisa. That message has persisted and is a central part of the de-legitimation discourse of the opposition and many civic organisations. The MDC has regularly threatened protests since 2018.
The MDCs strategies have not resulted in any significant progress. The hope that the economic crisis and attempts at mass protests to force Zanu-PF into a dialogue are, for the moment, likely to be met with growing repression. Moreover, the deepening economic crisis is likely to further thwart attempts to mobilise on a mass basis.
The EU, for its part, is still keen on finding a more substantive basis for increased re-engagement with Mnangagwa and will keep the door open. Regarding the US, given the toxic politics of the Trump administration at a global level, and the ongoing strictures of the US on the Zimbabwe government, there has been a closing of ranks around a fellow liberation movement in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Mnangagwa’s recent appointment as Chair of the SADC Troika on Politics, Peace and Security in Tanzania will only further cement this solidarity.
There is clearly a strong need for a national dialogue between the major political players in Zimbabwean politics. But there is little sign that this will proceed. Moreover, the current position of regional players means that there is unlikely to be any sustained regional pressure for such talks in the near future.
Zimbabwe’s government said it is ready to settle with global lenders, sell assets and make the difficult spending decisions needed for financial recovery. But with opposition protests against plunging living standards scheduled in cities nationwide, it is in a race against time.
In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg News, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube dismissed rapidly accelerating inflation as “wage compression” and warned the country it will have to endure four more months of economic pain. for over a weeks, police in the capital has violently dispersed demonstrators protesting over the hardship his austerity measures have spawned.
“The big macro-economic decisions should be complete by year-end,” Ncube, 55, said in Harare. “In December, everything stops in terms of the big decisions. Beyond that, we focus more on jobs, growth, productivity and development.”
Almost a year into the job, Ncube, a Cambridge-university trained economics professor, has reined-in state spending and boosted tax revenue. But his introduction of a new currency in June, accompanied by a ban on the use of the US dollar, has seen the rapid erosion of spending power with the Zimbabwe dollar trading at almost 10 to the greenback. Its predecessor, a quasi-currency known as bond notes, was officially said to be at parity as recently as February.
Now many of the country’s 400 000 civil servants, who form the bulk of the middle class, are earning less than the $1.90 (R29) a day defined by the World Bank as the line below which people are living in extreme poverty.
Zimbabwe's annual inflation, the release of which has been suspended for six months, is officially 176 percent, the highest globally after Venezuela, and shortages of fuel and bread are widespread.
The government's inability to pay for adequate electricity imports has crippled the economy with power outages of as long as 18 hours a day. The measures, which Ncube conceded were painful for citizens, are necessary if the country is to regain a sound economic footing, he said.
There’s a growing risk that the economic hardship may trigger unrest similar to violence that took place two decades ago, said Japhet Moyo, the head of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the biggest labour federation.
The latest price hike announced by energy regulators on Saturday is the second last week and comes 48 hours after Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube increased the excise duty on fuel by 45%.
Gasoline now costs Z$9.01, up from Z$7.55, and diesel costs Z$9.06, up from Z$7.22, and reflects a 19% and 25% increase respectively from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority.
Ncube said fuel prices were too low in the southern African nation and needed to match the exchange rate between the local currency and the US dollar. On the official interbank market the rate is 9.28 per US dollar.
The hike in diesel, the most used fuel by companies and businesses which rely on it to operate generators, comes as power cuts lasting as much as 18-hours daily persist and is certain to put a further strain on business operations.
Econet Ltd, the largest mobile phone carrier in the country, said in a July 28th statement it needed 2 million liters of diesel monthly to run its 1,300 base stations, but fuel shortages meant it only had a quarter of its requirements met.
Government is calling for partnerships between local and foreign investors to set up generic drug manufacturing plants to improve drugs availability and create jobs.
Further, Government believes such investments will help generate foreign currency from the sale of generic drugs across the region.
This was said by Mr Godfrey Chanakira, the Permanent Secretary in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga's office, during the public health supply chain conference and exhibition in Harare on Tuesday.
"The Government of Zimbabwe advocates for improved availability of healthcare consumables and sustainable pricing structures of drugs," said Mr Chanakira.
"The TSP (Transitional Stabilisation Programme) acknowledges the technical and financial requirements in the sector, hence its call for new partnerships between domestic and foreign investors for setting up generic drug manufacturing plants in Zimbabwe in the course of this year.
"The joint venture partnerships envisaged are expected to benefit the country through technology transfer, among others."
He said such an approach results in value chain development, which comes with the creation of jobs for locals as well as generation of foreign currency through regional exports.
"In this regard, there are tremendous opportunities for the private sector to complement and partner the public sector towards the goal of achieving substantial improvements in drugs procurement efficiency and commodity availability.
"Although the private sector is often held up as a benchmark for efficiency for the public sector, this may be unfair as it ignores the unique challenges and constraints that public sector procuring entities often face such as greater public scrutiny and lengthy procurement procedures," said Mr Chanakira.
He said the National Health Strategy put in place by Government contains various programmes to direct and institutionalise stakeholder participation in the healthcare delivery system, maintain the momentum of private-public cooperation and create an enabling environment for those who want to come on board.
Mr Chanakira added that the key to any successful health system is the supply of medicines, the availability of essential commodities and equipment to enable testing, treatment, care and support.
"Nevertheless, within the public sector, procurement of health commodities requires more flexibility and responsiveness to change (in population health and in environmental conditions) than procurement of other products.
"Thus, ineffective procurement in public health institutions compromises the quality of national disease responses, interventions and programmes.
"Inadequate planning, forecasting and procurement methods often contribute to high commodity costs, long lead times, stock imbalances and overall, commodity insecurity," he said.
Source: The Herald
Zimbabwe won’t hesitate to raise interest rates above their current level of 50% to deal with speculative borrowers, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Monday.
Zimbabwe hiked its overnight lending rate to 50% last month after making its interim RTGS currency the country’s sole legal tender.
Central bank Governor John Mangudya said on Monday that Zimbabwean individuals and companies held around $1 billion in foreign-currency accounts, around three months’ import cover.
Eskom says it has received payment from Zimbabwe.
The power utility confirmed that payment reflected on Tuesday.
“Eskom confirms that the payment made by Zimbabwe is reflecting in its account today,” Eskom said in a media statement.
Eskom did not disclose how much was paid but said it would work with Zimbabwe's state-owned power utility for solutions.
However, Zimbabwe's state-owned power utility owes Eskom more than US$40-million (R564-million) for electricity borrowed over the years.
“Discussions will continue with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to find a mutually beneficial solution to the outstanding debt. Eskom is a commercial operation and will be guided by the contracts we have in place with ZESA,” Eskom added.
On Friday, Eskom said it had not the received payment from Zimbabwe.
However, Zimbabwe’s energy minister Fortune Chasi posted proof of the R139-million payment on social media.
The amount is an equivalent of $10-million.
Zimbabwe is experiencing lengthy power cuts amid an economic crisis.