25 September 2017

Zimbabwe's Ailing Economy Hits Rock Bottom

Photo: The Herald
Vandalized Robert Mugabe street road sign.

Harare — Zimbabwe's economic crisis is at its worst in years after panicking citizens horded commodities and left supermarket shelves empty in recent days. Alarmed buyers bought goods in bulk after unspecified reports of impending goods shortages in a country ravaged over the years by drought and cash shortages.

The resultant shortages have resuscitated the parallel market, with prices of commodities more than doubling, thereby evoking memories of 2008 when the country hit rock bottom with inflation of 79,6 billion percent and the demise of the Zimbabwean dollar. Without its currency, the Southern African country has relied mostly on the United States Dollar and South African Rand.

The current crisis has led to the re-emergence of the parallel market for these currencies, which are preferred to the so-called bond notes. Fuel shortage has resurfaced with long and winding queues being order of the day in the capital Harare. Rebounding economic woes are projected to pile pressure on President Robert Mugabe's administration ahead of elections set for early 2018.

"The only salvation left for Zimbabweans is to vote Mugabe and his violent wife Grace out. Otherwise there is nothing left for Zimbabwe," fumedvforeign currency dealer, Chipo Gwidi. Mugabe (93) and Zanu-PF, in power since independence in 1980, are accused of wrecking arguably Africa's most vibrant economy through corruption and partisan policies. Mugabe accuses western countries of sabotaging the economy.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, John Mangudya, made frantic efforts to calm restless citizens. "Social media messages that are circulating and suggesting there are going to be shortages of basic commodities in Zimbabwe are false and malicious," Mangudya said. Home Affairs minister Ignatious Chombo, who is also Zanu PF secretary for administration threatened the local media and individuals posting information regarding basic commodity shortages in the country.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs' attention has been drawn to a sudden spate of irresponsible press and social media reports falsely claiming that there is chaos in the currency markets that has precipitated widespread panic buying of basic commodities due to their alleged shortage or skyrocketing prices. "Of grave concern to the ministry is that these reports have all trappings of a politically coordinated criminal agenda by some well known renegades and malcontents who now seek to disturb the peace in the country to cause alarm and despondency in pursuit of an alleged political agenda,"

Chombo said. He added: "It is a criminal offence and is therefore punishable. In the circumstances, Government is closely monitoring the press and social media reports in question with a view to taking decisive action to deal a telling blow to the perpetrators of the crime in terms of the law of the country[s criminal justice system."

- CAJ News


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