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.
Zimbabwe’s passport-issuing service has ground to a halt, officials said Monday, leaving many citizens trapped in the country as its economic crisis worsens.
Applicants for new or renewed passports face an indefinite wait as the government does not have the foreign currency to pay for special imported paper, ink and other raw materials. Officials at the Registrar General Office said that even if citizens want to pay for an urgent application for a passport, they face a minimum wait of 18 months before they can even submit their papers.
“Last month, the urgent applicants were being told to come back at the end of 2020,” said one official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
She added that non-urgent applicants were told that no date was available for when they can apply. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad in the last 20 years seeking work as hyperinflation wiped out savings and the formal employment sector collapsed.
Many others are now seeking to leave as conditions worsen under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had promised an economic revival after he succeeding long-ruling Robert Mugabe in 2017.
Official inflation is at nearly 100 percent — the highest since hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009 — while supplies of essentials such as bread, medicine and petrol regularly run short.
Power cuts often last 19 hours a day.
Isheanesu Mpofu, a 23-year-old unemployed university graduate, applied for a passport last November but is still waiting.
“I went back early June to check on it, and was told to check again in August,” Mpofu said, adding he wanted to visit his family abroad.
“Besides, it is my right to have a passport so I can travel whenever I want to,” he said.
Mnangagwa addressed the problem last month, saying a dispute with the printers over unpaid bills meant that a state-owned company would take over the job.
“They said they will not print any more passports because of legacy debts,” he said, claiming the money had now been paid.
A passport office official said that only ten passports were being printed each day despite a reported backlog of 280,000.
“We have the capacity to clear the backlog in a very short time but all the machinery is lying idle right now,” she said.
Registrar General Clement Masango said that he had no comment to add to the president’s remarks
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), will print an extra $400 million in bond notes and coins to cover the gap left by the withdrawal of hard currencies, Governor John Mangudya said Wednesday.
On Monday, government, in a shock move, announced the multi-currency regime that had obtained for a decade would be abolished with immediate effect, designating the Zimbabwean dollar as sole legal tender for all local transactions.
Mangudya was however quick to allay fears of inflation indicating the RBZ is cognisant of the consequences of unguarded printing of money.
"As we move towards a cashless society, we still need about $400 million to allow people to access cash, so we are going to print that money to cover that gap left by the removal of the multi-currency system," Mandudya told a state run radio station from China.
"We will not print up to levels that will cause inflation as feared by some people."
Mangudya said Zimbabwe's economy requires around $1.5 billion in cash and currently has between $600-$800 million in bond notes that are not enough for use by the transacting public.
"Currently, we have about $6-800 million in bond notes and coins. This economy requires about 10% of all deposits in liquidity which comes to about $1-1.5 billion.
"So we will definitely bring in notes and coins in the value of around $400 million," he said.
The RBZ governor also said that diaspora remittances should continue to be received in foreign currency and no bank has been instructed not to pay customers from their Nostro accounts.
He also dismissed claims that the Central Bank will raid ordinary people and business foreign currency accounts.
"Recipients of diaspora remittances and other foreign currency payments will still withdraw in hard currencies or choose to get it in Zimbabwean dollar at an interbank rate," he said.
According to a statement from the RBZ, non-governmental organisations, embassies and other foreign organisations will not be affected and can continue paying salaries in foreign currency.
Government has paid US$10 million to South African power utility, Eskom, and paid off $20 million to Zesa Holdings to clear its debt.
Zesa Holdings is also expected to get an advance of $20 million from Government, in a move expected to improve power generation.
This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa in Harare while addressing journalists on decisions reached during Tuesday’s 25th June Cabinet meeting.
“Cabinet was advised by the Minister of Energy and Power Development that Treasury has now fully paid off Government’s debt obligation to Zesa, which was around RTGS$20 million.
“A further RTGS$20 million is due to be advanced to Zesa by Treasury, in order to boost power generation by the utility. This, together with the payment of US$10 million to Eskom, should help alleviate the current power supply situation,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Responding to journalists, Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi said the money will go a long way in power generation to ease deficit.
“We will hold discussions to ensure that the money is applied on areas of generation, part of which is production of coal which is key to generation of thermal (energy). So that is significant, we are expecting another RTGS$20 million, we already have a plan on its utilisation. We need a plan for power in Zimbabwe, a plan that recognises we have a deficit,” said Minister Chasi.
He said the ministry’s long-term plan was to export upon generating excess power.
He commended the Government for clearing its debt, saying it had led by example.
“We need to address load-shedding which is also causing hardships to the public. I am not at the moment able to say specifically what we are going to get from Eskom. We are engaged with them, we have made a significant payment; we should get some relief from that quarter.
“If we are able to get the 400MW, that would be good. It will deal with the cycle of consumption that we experience everyday that has occasioned load-shedding,” said Minister Chasi.
“We are coming up with a programme to install meters, so that we manage our consumption. We are also looking at efforts to disengage as many as possible of our consumers from the grid during the day which means we really have to look at the issue of solar in a direct way.”
He implored Zesa consumers to pay their debts.
“It is very easy to criticise Zesa but what does it mean when there is a bill of $1,2 billion on power utility which is at the nerve centre of our economy?” he said.
He said Kariba Dam level was now at 28 percent.
Turning to Zesa management, Minister Chasi said there was need for proper governance at the power utility.
“Zesa must be properly governed and we are working on that. We need proper management by people who appreciate the work that they are involved in.
“My position is clear. If you are complicity in conduct that causes loss or damage to Zesa or people of Zimbabwe in general you must answer for it.
“We have just completed studying the forensic report and anyone who has a case must answer and anyone who must leave Zesa must do so. We want people with the national interest at heart,” said Minister Chasi.
Source: The Herald Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe and the European Union began political talks aimed at turning the page on hostile relations during Robert Mugabe’s rule, a step that could enable a resumption of direct financial aid for the ailing economy.
During Mugabe’s four-decade rule until 2017, he would routinely blame European “colonialists” for Zimbabwe’s problems and snarled at EU and US sanctions for rights and vote abuses.
The EU has only kept sanctions on Mugabe, his wife and the state arms manufacturer, but is yet to resume direct funding to the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, preferring to channel money through local charities and UN agencies.
With the economy afflicted by dollar shortages, fuel queues, power-cuts, and soaring prices, Mnangagwa has said restoring ties with the West and multilateral lenders like International Monetary Fund is one of his major priorities.
At the start of the open-ended talks between diplomats and officials in Harare, EU Zimbabwe delegation head Timo Olkkonen said they would discuss issues including economic development, trade, investment, rights, rule of law and good governance.
The government has already signed up to an IMF monitoring programme where it has committed to political and economic reforms in a bid to set a track record of fiscal discipline that could earn it debt forgiveness and future financing.
At a separate event in a Harare hotel, Mnangagwa signed a new bill creating a tripartite negotiating forum intended to bring labour, business and government together to shape policy.
The 76-year-old leader is under pressure to deliver on pre-election promises and wants to avert a repeat of violent protests over a steep fuel price hike in January.
Later on Wednesday, the government is expected to start wage negotiations with public sector unions, who say a pay rise of up to 29% they received in April had already been eroded by inflation, now at a 10-year high of 75.86 %.
Mnangagwa has promised to break with his predecessor and says his “open for business” mantra will woo foreign investors. But critics say under his rule the economy shows no signs of improvement while security forces have continued to crush dissent.