Zim in crisis!

HARARE - In a shocking move, police yesterday arrested outspoken cleric Evan Mawarire as he conducted a church service — fuelling fears that authorities are now in full panic mode over the country’s collapsing economy and the growing talk of imminent socio-political upheaval in urban areas.

Mawarire’s arrest came hardly 24 hours after he had revived his #ThisFlag campaign and produced a video broadcast urging Zimbabweans to rally against the government’s poor policies which have taken the country back to the doom and gloom days of 2008.

The popular cleric’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told the Daily News yesterday that he had since been charged with “subverting a constitutionally-elected government” — charges similar to those that he is already facing at the High Court in a different case.

Mawarire’s arrest comes as analysts issued a fresh warning at the weekend that Zimbabwe is on the cusp of experiencing another economic disaster similar to the meltdown of 2008 when local inflation hit world record levels and supermarket shelves went empty for months on end.

This followed the re-emergence of long fuel queues, as well as worsening shortages of cash, drugs and basic goods — which has seen panicking Zimbabweans stampeding to hoard these commodities.

Police swooped on Mawarire as he was in the middle of delivering his Sunday sermon to his Milton Park congregants, at the His Generation Church. He was later whisked away in an unmarked grey Isuzu double cab.

Before he was taken away by authorities, his stunned congregants prayed for him fervently after he asked for divine intervention in the country’s worsening crises during his sermon.

On Saturday, Mawarire had urged Zimbabweans to take peaceful action against the government over its failing economic policies.

“The job of politicians is not to force policies on us but to make policies that speak to our needs. If we don’t want it, we ask for it to be scrapped.

“I want us to get to a point where in the next few weeks, the citizens of this country are going to have to come together and decide on an action that they are going to do, an action that is going to speak to government,” he said in his video broadcast which had garnered 38 000 views by early afternoon yesterday.

“If the issues we are facing right now do not bind us together as citizens of Zimbabwe, nothing else will. We have to take this opportunity to look each other in the eye and say listen, it doesn’t matter which political parties we support, it doesn’t matter what our ideologies are, the one thing that we support is Zimbabwe and we can’t allow this country to keep going down,” he added.

The popular pastor organised one of the most successful and peaceful strikes in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe last year, with long-suffering citizens heeding his call to stay away from work to protest the country’s worsening rot.

Dubbed “Shutdown”, the crippling strike forced the panicking Zanu PF government to use excessive force to quell subsequent protests, as Zimbabweans agitated for change.

Later in the year, panicking authorities introduced the bizarre law which criminalises certain uses of the national flag, under the Flag of Zimbabwe Act, in what was seen as a desperate bid to clamp down on the #ThisFlag movement.

At the time, the Zimbabwe flag had become a major rallying instrument both at home and internationally, following Mawarire’s resonant patriotism campaign.

He had done this by engaging Zimbabweans while drapped in the national flag, which stirred deep nationalistic emotions among ordinary citizens fed up with the country’s deepening political and economic problems.

Mawarire was later arrested on what his lawyers said were trumped-up charges that led to his initial contentious detention, allegedly for inciting public violence and stealing a police baton and helmet.

After he was given bail, the clergyman relocated his family to the United States of America, before returning to Zimbabwe in February this year, when he was arrested again at the Harare International Airport.

Pro-democracy groups and political analysts said yesterday that the country’s worsening economic rot was likely to spark social unrest in the coming months, unless the government moved to address the crisis.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Mawarire’s stance on the deteriorating economic situation could never be “a justification for the violation of his basic right to free expression”.

“Arresting Mawarire will not make the bond note gain value, neither will it solve Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. The government must respect constitutional rights and uphold the law,” HRW director for southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, said.

Political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo said the government needed to address the deepening rot, instead of turning on citizens “whose rights to free expression is guaranteed by the Constitution”.

“The supreme law of the land provides for the right of citizens to demonstrate and petition.  . . . Mawarire has committed no crime and this vampire regime must release him unconditionally.

“The current appalling situation is likely to trigger social unrest and the government must work towards rectifying the food, fuel and cash shortages among a myriad of challenges affecting the country,” Hlatywayo told the Daily News.

The MDC said it was clear that Zanu PF was panicking and had “no solution to the country’s worsening economic troubles”.

“The bad news is that things will get worse before they can get better. The economy has tanked, and things have fallen apart. Only a complete and total removal of the corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF regime is a viable solution. Nothing else will do.

“Zimbabweans generally have a very high tolerance threshold and thus, we might not witness an uprising in the mould of the Arab session, but certainly things will hot up as the economic meltdown gets out of hand.

“We will witness some mass demonstrations as people demand an even political playing field and electoral reforms,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant with the International Crisis Group, also said things were not likely to get better anytime soon.

“If basic commodities become unaffordable, this significantly raises the risk of unrest. The rise in fuel prices that will accompany shortages will have knock on effects for costs in every sector of the economy.

“This will more likely mobilise people to the streets than reported threats over the flawed BVR (biometric voter registration) process.

The situation on the ground is getting more combustible.
“The situation is exacerbated by a predatory elite who continue to profit from the misery of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“An inclusive national solution to all this is now critical. Elections predicated on a winner take all formula, whether held early or not, is unlikely to provide a sustainable solution,” Pigou warned.

Meanwhile, panicking shoppers and motorists continued to besiege shops and garages yesterday, as the climate of doom in the country worsens.

Most shops in Harare were limiting purchases of oil and sugar in the wake of the rampant hoarding of these items by jittery Zimbabweans.

Similarly, motorists were filling their vehicle tanks and jerrycans using cash, amid rejection of bank cards and mobile money by some service stations.

Revellers who tried to swipe their cards at nightclubs and bars were also left stranded, as most owners demanded cash.

In addition, Zimbabweans have over the past few weeks been greeted by sharp increases in the prices of basic goods, as retailers hike prices continually in response to the high cost of money on the parallel market.

Yesterday, one US dollar was trading against the bond note at up to 1,40 on the parallel market, while bank transfers were being transacted at 1,60 bond notes for one greenback.

The majority of companies which fall outside the RBZ’s priority list for foreign currency rely on bank transfers for their needs, and use the parallel market.

As a result, prices of basic consumer goods have been shooting up sharply as companies and retailers pass on their exchange costs to their customers.

RBZ governor John Mangudya has said that he is allocating $30 million a week for basic consumer goods and $15 million for the importation of fuel and electricity.

He has also said that the RBZ is introducing a US$600 million stabilisation facility to address the country’s biting foreign currency shortages.

Comments (16)

Dictators are the same the world over. His sons buying very modern and expensive cars..Juguars....staying in posh houses and hotels, drinking expensive wins, spinning on parks cars in hotels. Zimbabwe has become a laughing stock all because of the Robbers and Muggers.......Leave the man of the cloth alone....They claim to have read economics.......your economics have failed the nation. Zimbabwe does not belong to Gushungo who is from Malawi.....Nada Nguva yakwana...

Clemence Tashaya - 25 September 2017

vanhu ngatitoita mademotrations ngatitoita ho ho ho ndaaaa zvekutaura taneta hondo pamberi nayo

g40 - 25 September 2017

Arise Zimbabwe arise! Its time

Dakarai - 25 September 2017

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the government devoted as much energy into fixing our economy as they do to violating our rights??

Gogo - 25 September 2017

evan mawarire is a munangagwa agent we have infromation that puts him at the heart of zimbabwe's political battles fortunately he is working for ngwena not G40

intelligence - 25 September 2017

..later whisked away in a grey 'unmarked' Isuzu double cab. I believe Dzamara was whisked away in an unmarked white double cab

sinyo - 25 September 2017

The reserve bank of Zimbabwe should take over the black market to solve the problem. Its simple. It should over USD to anyone who wants them (not for criminal purposes) at a premium similar to the black market rate say at 1.3 Bond for transfer while the black market is charging 1.6Bond and use the proceeds to pay exporter incentives. maybe pay another 5% to exporters who exported this year. Pay tobacco farmers another incentive and maize farmers an import substitution premium. That way it motivates productivity while killing the black market.

murimi - 25 September 2017

Point of correction. Mawarire did not organize the Shutdown. He publicized and popularized it, but he did not organize it.

Gandanga - 25 September 2017

Point of correction. Mawarire did not organize the Shutdown. He publicized and popularized it, but he did not organize it.

Gandanga - 25 September 2017

@murimi you are right. Mangudya should just accept that the bond note is regarded as legal tender in Zimbabwe and an exchange rate must be prescribed to it. He should have devalued it systematically a long time ago. Letting the markets do it for him will leave him powerless and unable to control it. The time to devalue it is now so that he can stabilise the markets. The markets at the moment are just responding to his prescribed rate which he pegged at 1.05 (5% for the export incentive). Now that we have a new arrangement with the Afrixembank, it is prudent for the RBZ to devalue the bond note, but not arbitraly.

Moyondizvo - 25 September 2017

It was a waste of time for Robert Mugabe to get several university degrees because practically he cannot solve any of the country's problems. Ian Smith had only 1 degree, BCom but he handed over a prosperous Rhodesia to Robert Mugabe. Will Mugabe hand over a prosperous Zimbabwe to the next president??

Ndiani Ndiani - 26 September 2017

Gentlemen and ladies, the solution to this country is violence, without that Zanu Pf will continue to milk the blood of the masses, we have to fight again to retain our rights. When the smith gvt abused our rights we fought, and now we have fight again coz we now have black smith gvt.

budha - 26 September 2017

Sure because this gvt does not want peaceful protests, they want violence. We are watching them as citizens, the day we come out, we will come out in full force, we are also watching them on the elections.

Mngongongo - 26 September 2017

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jayyjonquizon - 26 September 2017

We said it here that Magdla was fooled by bond coins as they worked well along the USD dollar so he decided to bring back the bearer cheque through back door by changing the name and called it bond . because he thinks he is too educated to listen to us he has learnt the hard way .Now what he needs to do if he will listen recall the bond notes fast fast leave coins up to dollar coin failing to do that by end of this year we will have gone back past 2008.Must make sure all money changers are arrested or allow citizens to take law into their own hand remove money changers from streets . . but first take away the bond from circulation .

Diibulaanyika - 26 September 2017

I think that what the gvt should do is as @dibulaanyika said, recall the bond notes, create a new national currency with an exchange rate. Also, i am not an economist, but if they could find a way to boost our industry, maybe in the same ways they did with the farmers. maybe through tax breaks or something to give industries an incentive which will give them a chance to grow. growth means that there will be increase in employment, and if there is an increase in employment, their tax revenue increases. Find ways to partner with indigenous miners, like gold panners and diamond miners where they are given access to mining fields but only if they sell at least 75% of their minerals back to the govt at a fair rate. This will allow the normal person to get an income while the government is able to gain minerals to back its local currency (as its my understanding that your mineral reserve is the strength of your currency) PLEASE forgive me if i am not making sense as im not an analyst, im just thinking of practical ways we can aid our economy. If we are allowed to sell our 25% of mined product outside the country then isnt that classed as an export which can increase the export revenue? Anyway i stand together with all zimbabweans and i pray that things will improve

Leleboy - 26 September 2017

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