ZIMBABWE’s deepening political and economic crises can now only be resolved through decisive action and sincere national dialogue if imminent civil unrest is to be avoided, analysts have warned.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, the analysts said all indications pointed to looming social upheavals, which could only be averted if the ruling Zanu PF earnestly engaged with the opposition and civil society to rescue the country from its woes.
This comes as the British government has implored Zimbabwe to end human rights violations in the country, as well as its toxic economic policies — all of which are key to reviving its re-engagement talks with Western powers.
It also comes as there is growing dissatisfaction with the government’s poor handling of the economy among long-suffering Zimbabweans — amid ever skyrocketing prices of basic consumer goods in the country.
The analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the escalating political strife and economic challenges meant that President Emmerson Mnangagwa now had few options left in his quest to fix Zimbabwe.
World politics specialist, Stephen Chan, said the inexplicable dithering by authorities to end the country’s myriad challenges, coupled with the MDC’s worsening factional wars, could soon see the public taking “matters into their own hands”.
“The indecisiveness of …Mnangagwa is surprising to me and indeed … to the international community as a whole.
“The reading in both the US State Department and Whitehall is that he must be hostage to various Zanu PF factions and that he sees himself firstly as the president of Zanu PF, and then as the president of Zimbabwe.
“And given the effective paralysis of the opposition, as it insists on opposing itself — self-cannibalising itself — this can only invite public unrest.
“So the MDC is as much to blame as Zanu PF for any turmoil that may come. I think you can forget re-engagement with the West,” Chan said.
“The West has its own major problems right now — Covid-19, economic recession, competition with China, racial tensions and institutional collapse in the wake of Covid-19 (to assist Zimbabwe).
“No one can make the effort to view Zimbabwe as a serious country anymore. As far as I am informed, this same view is not uncommon in high circles in Beijing (China).
“No cavalry will appear on the horizon. Not even a lone horseman,” Chan added.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, chipped in saying “the ingredients for civil unrest are there, the firewood and petrol is there, what is missing is the lighter”.
“Mnangagwa has to deal with toxic politics in Zimbabwe. One of the effective solutions is to have a coalition government.
“A coalition government can act as paracetamol (pain killer). It can reduce political temperatures for now. The country is burning. It really is high time to bury the hatchet.
“Mnangagwa must start to engage all locals, political parties and other stakeholders. We cannot talk about re-engagement internationally when you are failing to engage your fellow countrymen.
“Mnangagwa must know that charity begins at home,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
Namibia-based analyst, Admire Mare, said Mnangagwa and his administration needed to appreciate that “the masses are suffering and need something to lift their despondency”.
“The government must put the livelihoods of the people at the centre of its economic reform agenda so that civil unrest can be arrested.
“Hunger and unemployment are always a recipe for all kinds of militant and resistant politics.
“ED must ensure that he implements the needed political and economic reforms so that it becomes easier to re-engage with the West,” Mare said.
All this comes as Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, which has been exacerbated by the deadly effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and the regional drought that has left millions of people in the country facing starvation.
Despite showing early signs of efforts to turn around the economy, which had suffered from years of corruption and mismanagement under the previous ruinous rule of the late former president Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa and his lieutenants are now finding the going tough.
So deep are the country’s economic problems that the hapless Zim dollar — which was prematurely and ill-advisedly re-introduced by under-fire Finance minister Mthuli Ncube last year — is collapsing spectacularly, which in turn, has triggered the steep price increases of basic consumer goods.
In addition, the country is once again experiencing acute fuel shortages despite the commodity being in abundant supply worldwide.
In a sign of the escalating political tensions in the country, the MDC Alliance warned at the weekend that it was preparing to roll out mass protests against the government, over its alleged interference in the main opposition’s affairs.
Last month, Zanu PF politburo member and former Cabinet minister Tshinga Dube called on Mnangagwa to form a government of national unity (GNU) with the opposition to end the country’s deepening crises.
Speaking in the exclusive interview with the Daily News, Dube — the straight-talking former War Veterans minister and known supporter of Mnangagwa — said Zimbabweans now needed to put aside their political differences in the interest of the country.
“At the current rate, it will take a long time for us to get it right. I have always said economics and politics are like two legs of men. If the other leg is dysfunctional, the other leg won’t be able to walk straight.
“You cannot have a good economy where there is no good politics.
“I am … calling for a government of national unity, not because there is a vacancy … but I feel it will make us focus on running the economy only, instead of spending so much time fighting and squabbling over politics,” the ever candid Dube told the Daily News then.
“All these things we are hearing about abductions and torture are caused by divisions, and they affect the reputation of our country.
“So, if they (politicians) can come together, all this will be over … and we don’t lose anything as a nation.
“But there are some people in government who feel that maybe if this GNU comes into effect, they will lose their positions,” the former Zipra bigwig further told the Daily News.
“But we are not looking at that, we are looking at the development of the country. Look at how neighbouring countries are fast developing ahead of us.
“Everyone here is thinking about power. Where have you seen a country with 23 people aspiring to be a president?
“It’s not surprising that in the next elections, this number may double up,” Dube added — referring to the record number of people who stood as presidential candidates in the disputed 2018 national elections.