Aug 2, 2019

Zimbabwe's crisis is growing dangerous

Doing laundry by a spring in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images

Zimbabwe's economic crisis is deepening, with electricity restricted to 6 hours per day, millions of people going up to a week without running water and more than half the population facing food insecurity.

The backdrop: A severe drought and decades of economic mismanagement under Robert Mugabe, who was deposed in 2017, have contributed to the crisis. But Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is only making matters worse, according to Dzikamai Bere of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum.

  • A recent ban on trade in foreign currencies has made commerce much more difficult, Bere says, and "grand corruption" continues with impunity.
  • "In Zimbabwe today, there is tension emanating from the economic situation," says Bere, who visited D.C. this week to receive an award and meet with members of Congress.

What to watch: Bere says labor unions and the political opposition have received death threats for planning mass demonstrations.

  • "The government is saying that if people protest we will kill," he says, adding that demonstrations are nonetheless expected "within the next 12 weeks."
  • Bere says the government responds to protests by sending in the military and shutting down the internet.

Between the lines: According to Bere, while Mnangagwa has attempted to project a positive image to the world, more shadowy figures in the regime could care less about international perceptions.

"During the Mugabe era we knew where power lay. Now, you don't know who is controlling the violence."
— Dzikamai Bere, to Axios

The bottom line: "I think there is not any hope in the current establishment. People are convinced that they have no capacity to stop stealing, and they have no capacity to run the country."

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