OPPOSITION leader Nelson Chamisa has warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa and government that the high levels of unemployment could lead to yet another civil unrest unless they quickly address the deepening economic crisis.
This comes as the stabilisation measures unveiled by government are threatened by drought and the recent tropical Cyclone Idai whose scale of destruction has added pressure to Treasury.
Zimbabwe is facing a severe drought which aid and relief agencies say will leave five million needing food support in the ravaged communities. In an interview with the Daily News, Chamisa warned that the deepening economic crisis and runaway unemployment could spark yet another fury from long-suffering youths.
“The plight of young people is a threat to the national stability, youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb that has to be resolved in the context of national dialogue and engagement,” Chamisa said.
The youthful opposition leader also said Mnangagwa’s foreign trips appeared to be misplaced “because they were not bringing anything tangible”.
“I am getting worried with his trips it seems he is not appreciating the problems that Zimbabwe has, especially the young people,” he said.
In January this year, police and soldiers were engaged in running battles with protesters who flooded the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and other towns — to protest the steep fuel price hikes which were announced by Mnangagwa ahead of his tour of Eastern Europe.
Mnangagwa, who was feted like a king when he replaced ousted former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, initially lifted the mood of crisis-weary Zimbabweans who were hopeful at the time that he would turn around the country’s economic fortunes.
However, the post-July 30, 2018 election shootings — which left at least six civilians dead when the military used live ammunition to quell an ugly demonstration in Harare’s central business district (CBD) — and dozens of deaths during this year’s fuel riots, as well as the subsequent vicious clampdown of dissenting voices — are seen as having dented his international image significantly, in addition to harming his chances of getting financial support from Western countries.
Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi said Mnangagwa was working hard to attract investors but the opposition was “choosing to criticise him for the sake of gaining relevance”.
“The opposition is overlooking what government is doing. We are creating wealth…the president has hosted South Africa and Botswana and travelled to other countries.
“The message that we are getting is that we are going to get development partners. We have taken measures towards reducing costs…trying to instil confidence in investors and laying the foundation for them,” Mutodi said.
“There is no need for people to demonstrate because demonstrations are retrogressive. We know the opposition want to manipulate every situation to remove the government.
“Those in the opposition should know that the law will take its course and those who are on the wrong side of the law will be punished,” he added.
Zimbabwe is currently in the grip of a ginormous economic crisis which sparked riots in January when protesters who heeded calls for a stay-away by labour unions clashed with heavily armed security forces, leading to several deaths.
Property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was destroyed and looted in the mayhem which ensued, after a three-day strike call by labour unions. At the same time, security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against the protesters, the opposition and civil society leaders, in a move which received wide condemnation in the country and around the world.
Meanwhile, A United Nations report shows that Zimbabwe was better off under former President Robert Mugabe than under his predecessor, current leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The UN World Happiness Report 2019 ranks Zimbabwe as the 146th happiest country out of 156 nations. Zimbabwe dropped two places from number 144 the previous year.
In an interview with Newsday, Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Godfrey Kanyenze had this to say:
It is not unexpected. If you compare where we are now with where we were last year, certainly last year we were in a better place. Certainly, last year, we did not have the fuel queues, last year expectations were much higher than they are now.
The longer we go, the more disappointed we are now because it is a crisis of expectations. After the elections, people are expecting results, for the economy to begin to pick up and the government to address the challenges affecting us.
The UN looked at six key variables when compiling the report over a period stretching from 2005-2018.
These variables are GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption, according to the World Happiness Report 2019.