Saturday , January 23 2021

What the Zimbabweans who celebrated the fall of Mugabe now face every day



AFP


Some Zimbabweans dared hope that the fall of longtime authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe a year ago would finally bring changes after years of economic decline, corruption and repression.

But the last 12 months have been tough, with few signs of Zimbabwe emerging in a new era.

Consumer prices last month skyrocketed at their fastest pace since hyperinflation a decade ago, with annual inflation reaching 20.9%, and many Zimbabweans say the real rate is much higher.

Money remains scarce, with depositors forced to line up outside banks for limited withdrawals of "debt securities" – supposedly equal to US dollars, but that are worth less in reality.

The shortage of essential daily products such as bread, chicken, cooking oil and gasoline has worsened since Mugabe's fall, as the country runs out of foreign currency to buy imported products.

Long lines in front of gas stations and empty shops became regular tourist spots, while drug supplies also became scarcer and much more expensive.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF party easily won the July election, maintaining tight control of parliament.

Party leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe, won the presidential race at just over 50 percent – avoiding a run-off against Nelson Chamisa of main opposition MDC, who said the result was fraudulent.

Mnangagwa has promised a free and open Zimbabwe after the Mugabe years, but political opponents, protesters and activists still face a repressive regime.

On 1 August, security forces opened fire and six people were killed in Harare during demonstrations as election results were postponed.

Members of the MDC party have been routinely harassed and government critics are targeted, although the government denies involvement.

Zimbabwe must clear its arrears before it can raise more loans needed to rebuild the country. With a total debt of $ 16.9 billion, it says it will release nearly $ 2 billion of arrears with the African Development Bank and the World Bank by October 2019.

But continuing with US sanctions, which remain in place due to lack of reforms, may block new lending.


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