© 2018 by Robert Person.  The views expressed on this website are my own and do not represent the official policy of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

Mar 25

What's Driving the Crisis in Zimbabwe?



After living under a repressive ruler for forty years, the people of Zimbabwe were hoping for economic reform and market openness under the rule of Emmerson Mnangagwa in which they have yet to receive. Elected in 2017, President Mnangagwa with the help from his Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, has doubled the price of gas causing increased currency shortages and hardships and has allowed for violent military crackdowns. These two men have made it clear that their focus is on security and control of public discourse rather than on sound economic policy and the interests of the people. To this point, Zimbabwe has been unable to secure foreign direct investment in its markets due to its overwhelming debt and has resorted to using virtual transactions in the street market of the main city. Even China has refused to lend money to Zimbabwe. Due to President Mnangagwa’s lack of economic involvement, Zimbabwe has become a country of borrowing, acquisition and accumulation with no signs of change. Zimbabwe has instead accepted that money can be achieved through stealing rather than economic productivity. At this point the only real hope left for Zimbabwe is through the lifeline that South Africa has provided to them.


The party of which the President is associated, the ZANU-PF is most interested in staying in power, so its elite leaders can retain their privileges. President Mnangagwa was just as disconnected with the populous as the former President Robert Mugabe. In fact, not long after taking office, President Mnangagwa left the country to go on a European tour in a time of corruption and protest and only cut the trip short upon hearing news of violent riots occurring throughout the streets. The oligarchy that surrounds President Mnangagwa today can purchase beautiful mansions and obtain farmland while the rest of the populous can’t even afford to pay for sanitation products. They have shown no interest to invest in machinery and infrastructure to create a successful agricultural industry. Even though the ZANU-PF may technically be defined as an oligarchic party, there are astounding similarities between their parties’ structure and that of a tin-pot dictatorship. In a tin-pot dictatorship, the ruler is interested in minimizing resource cost to stay in office. They want to optimize the level of repression and loyalty that maintains the minimum power needed to stay in office and use any extra resources for their own personal benefit. As seen in Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa and the ZANU-PF are not interested in the needs of the people, they only want to get rich quick and utilize extra resources for their personal benefit or family benefit. Due to such methods, the people are underrepresented, and the chances of economic development are slim to none. Foreign direct investment is non-existent, and their only hope lies with South Africa. It is because of this tin-pot dictatorship that Zimbabwe has and will continue to face economic disparity.


Article found at: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/zimbabwe/2019-02-21/whats-driving-crisis-zimbabwe

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