ED should head straight to work

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrival from his Eurasian sojourn must signal the start of serious interventions to solve the country’s crises.

The majority of urban Zimbabweans and others resident in other parts of the country heeded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions call to stay away from work from Monday through to Wednesday last week in protest over fuel price hikes that led to diesel eventually retailing at $3,11 and petrol $3,31 per litre.

The move led to a steep rise in commuter and long-distance bus fares, with prospects of rises in other commodity prices becoming fairly obvious.

Of concern, however, was the mayhem that characterised the protests, in the form of lawlessness on the one hand as well as the State’s heavy-handed response to violence on the other.

The proverb “A stitch in time saves nine” could never have been more relevant. Authorities watched problems deteriorating to scary levels without proffering prompt solutions, leaving citizens trying different means of voicing their concern — staying away from work.

The response of the State to the violence was not surprising since they chose to brush the issues aside, claiming it was in fact civil society, the opposition and some foreign nations’ ploy to eventually unseat the government.

It remains government’s right to shape its opinions on such developments but solving the teething problems — a national imperative now — has become even more urgent.

The president’s work is already cut out for him. He has to deal with the State-sponsored violence that reminded the nation of the not-so-distant August 1 killings, following last year’s harmonised elections Mnangagwa won by a razor-thin margin over MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

Violence against unarmed civilians should never have a place in democracies. Of course, we will not — by condemning acts of State-sponsored violence against ordinary people — condone the looting and lawlessness witnessed during the same period.

While looting, the destruction of property and attacks on other citizens — which might have been the work of opportunists who took advantage of the chaos — taints the perceived objectives of the protesters, it is still imperative that Mnangagwa attends to the violence and economic problems right away.

It is heartening that he has already called for national dialogue with the opposition, churches and civil society, something that should have happened way back.

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