Race-denying liberals who hope that the ousting of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe would “put that country on the road to prosperity” have had their hopes dashed with the admission by the far left Guardian newspaper that the situation in the African state is in fact now worse than ever.
According to that paper, Zimbabwe is facing a “deepening economic crisis,” “crumbling infrastructure,” sky-high inflation, an ever-shrinking agricultural output, millions who rely in food aid, a cholera outbreak—caused by poor hygiene and broken infrastructure—and a state crackdown on opposition activity, including police shootings and the banning of meetings.
According to the Guardian, one Majory Manjoro, a part-time currency dealer in Harare, said life had become unbearable. “Things are getting worse. Everything goes up [in price].”
On August 1 this year, police shot dead six unarmed civilians in Harare during opposition protests, and shortly thereafter announced a ban on public meetings.
The Guardian went on to say that “few people in Zimbabwe have jobs, and infrastructure is crumbling.”
At the same time, a cholera outbreak has infected thousands and killed at least 30, with the disease spreading to five of the country’s 10 provinces. Cholera—caused by fecal matter being deposited in domestic water supplies—is increasingly common in Zimbabwe, where the white colonial-created infrastructure is literally crumbling away.
A 2008 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe infected nearly 100,000 people and led to more than 4,000 deaths.
The ban on public meetings was announced last week, just as the MDC was preparing to inaugurate its leader, Nelson Chamisa, as the “people’s president”. MDC officials accused the government of abusing the cholera epidemic for political purposes.
Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Program has announced that it is preparing to provide food aid to 1.1 million Zimbabweans before the next harvest in 2019, “as rural smallholders face shortages.”
“Growing food prices and the country’s dire economic state could also affect those living in urban areas,” the UN food agency added.
The WFP said that $71.2 million would be needed for the planned response, with $22 million already raised, largely from USAID.
The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s 2018 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report suggested that more than 2.4 million people will be “food insecure” during the peak of the 2018–19 “lean season.”
Livestock conditions were also deteriorating across the country due to water shortages and poor pasture, it added.
Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency amid runaway inflation nine years ago and now uses US dollars and South African rands, supplemented by bond notes printed by the central bank which command little confidence.
In recent days, the price of bread has increased by 10%, owing to an acute shortage of wheat, while fuel prices have also risen.
Authorities have deployed riot police to disperse stallholders in Harare accused of worsening the cholera outbreak by selling contaminated fruit and vegetables.
The vendors have vowed not to move.
“I cannot go off the streets but I fear that something bad might happen to me. They have threatened us countless times but I have no choice … the streets are our home,” said Tafadzwa Sakwe, an electrician who was laid off five years ago and has polished shoes since.
“The economy is deteriorating and prices are rising every day. On a good day I make US$13. I rent a one-roomed apartment in Chitungwiza with my wife and two children. It’s not enough,” he said.
“Most Zimbabweans who marched against Mugabe never thought we could be in a worse state, a year later,” said Bright Ndebele, a 27 -year-old unemployed graduate. “We wanted Mugabe gone so that we can have a better future. This is far below our expectations,” he said.