President Emmerson Mnangagwa's heavy-handed crackdown in his bid to stop protests by civil rights groups and political parties over corruption and the deteriorating economy, have once again put Zimbabwe under the global spotlight for all the wrong reasons at a time the country has been on a drive to lure investors into the nation.
Alarmed by plans to protest on July 31, police arrested opposition politician and organiser of the demonstration Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin'ono for inciting violence. Appeals for bail have been unsuccessful with the two taken to Chikurubi Maximum Prison where they are incarcerated with murderers and rapists.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere, award-winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga, the nephew of journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, Tawanda Muchehiwa are among those who have also either been arrested or tortured over protests. MDC Alliance says 30 of its members are in hiding as the crackdown by the State intensifies amid widespread condemnation from among others the United Nations and the African Union. This has prompted the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter social media campaign against corruption and human rights violations in the country. The campaign has been endorsed by celebrities such as American rapper Ice Cube and Zimbabwean born South African rugby player Tendai Mtawarira. Images of the country's security forces assaulting civilians and those of Chin'ono in leg irons, among others, have gone viral painting the country as a tyrannical outpost. This could not have come at a worse time, with the country in desperate need for not only funding, but significant levels of investment.
Recently Finance minister Mthuli Ncube's desperate plea to international funders for a bailout financial package to ameliorate the impact of Covid-19 was rebuffed. Ncube was told in no uncertain terms that no funding was possible without significant economic and political reforms. The despicable human rights abuses by government as well as its accusations that countries such as the United States are behind the protests will further tighten purse strings of funders and investors. Even China which calls Zimbabwe an all-weather friend and strategic partner, has baulked at giving President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration a bailout package.
Forming the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency and hollering that Zimbabwe is open for business is woefully inadequate if Mnangagwa's government continues its human rights abuses.
No sane investor will put their money in a country where the rule of the jungle reigns supreme. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures attest to this. The country's FDI levels plummeted from US$ 717,1 million in 2018 to US$259 million last year. Investment is expected to nosedive further to a paltry US$150,4 million this year.
Investors' appetite, which has already been diminished by the bizarre suspension of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, will only further dissipate after this latest attack on human rights.
When Mnangagwa was sworn in, hope sprung eternal that he would usher in a new democratic culture. Just like his predecessor the late Robert Mugabe, he has plunged the country into misery and poverty.