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Zimbabweans hope for a new era of prosperity

CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION: Zimbabweans are looking forward to a better economy

FOLLOWING THE resignation of Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades in power, Zimbabweans have expressed their hope for a better future for the country’s economy.

Experts have backed up this optimism, believing that the country may have a better chance of economic growth after decades of decline. There are still significant sections of the population that hold 93-year-old Mugabe in high regard.

Despite him being sacked as leader of the ZANU-PF and placed under house arrest, military were at pains to refer to him as president and allowed him to make a public appearance at a graduation ceremony on November 17, where he received polite applause.

However, Dr Knox Chitiyo, an Africa specialist at the think tank Chatham House, who has just returned from the country’s capital, Harare, said that for the first time ever, there was a moment of national consensus that the current crisis surrounding the world’s oldest head of state would pave the way to a more prosperous future.

He told The Voice: “We have, for the first time since 1980, what I would call a national convergence. People are agreed around one thing, which is that Mugabe must go, and that it’s time for a new direction for the country.

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“It’s unprecedented for war veterans, members of civil society, and young people to come together under one umbrella. It is a moment and a very impor- tant one on the history of the country.” Inflation in the southern African country currently exceeds 200 per cent and unemployment is above 90 per cent.


PICTURED: Ousted leader Robert Mugabe

Many citizens have not known a time without Mugabe, who has dominated every aspect of public life since coming to power in 1980 on the country’s independence from Britain. Among those Zimbabweans who expressed hope for a brighter economic future was Tafadzwa Masango, a 35-year- old unemployed man from Harare. He told reporters: “Our economic situation has deteriorated every day — no employment, no jobs. We hope for a better Zimbabwe after the Mugabe era. We feel very happy. It is now his time to go.”

Attention is now shifting to recently sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was on Tuesday (Nov 21) announced as Mugabe’s replacement as party leader, and could have a huge part to play in a transitional government.

Joice Mujuru, a struggle-era leader who fought as a guerrilla fighter while still a teenager, was also given a nod as a potential replacement to Mugabe, telling journalists last week that Zimbabwe was “in need of transitional arrangements” — but did not give any further details.

Mnangagwa’s apparent support for pro-business reforms are cause for cautious optimism after decades of mismanagement under Mugabe. There has also been praise for the military’s role in its efforts to secure a change of government and a new direction for the economy. Zimbabwe’s military seized power on November 15, saying it was targeting “criminals” surrounding Mugabe.


ACTION: Army general Constantine Chiwenga has played a role in events

The state-owned Herald newspaper remained loyal to Mugabe last week, but also backed the military intervention. “The military does not readily interfere in civilian political affairs. Yet, this week they had to break with this long tradition,” it said in an editorial, adding that ZANU-PF “was being soiled by those who should be helping the President”.

Theophilus Acheampong, Zimbabwe analyst at information services company IHS Markit, said that Zimbabwe’s growth depends on what kind of government results from the current upheaval.

He told CNBC: “Improvement in the liquidity and FX (foreign exchange) flows over the medium-term, possibly driven by increased agricultural output, (could) improve electricity supply and minerals production. Mwangagwa’s allies coming back to government means that these proposals are likely to go ahead as the country carves a new image for itself on the political and economic front with various pro-business reforms that will attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.”

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