Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

The queue for the bank is several days long

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
11 April 2018
By Farai Mutsaka

Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has not one, but ten different currencies – and currency chaos rules the country. The days of hyperinflation might be over, but the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe this autumn, has a difficult challenge in sorting out the economy.

Outside the bank Cabs in Harare, the queue is over a kilometre. Many have brought blankets to keep warm, having spent the night. To prevent fights, security guards have given queue tickets to the first 50 people.

-The rest of you will have to see if there is cash left when you arrive, he shouts dismissively.

The cash point nearby only serves to show account balance nowadays.

 

Since the hyperinflation of 2009, there are officially ten foreign currencies used for payments in Zimbabwe. But still, the lack of cash is one of the main everyday challenges. Forcing the world’s oldest president, Robert Mugabe, to leave office in November 2017 has hitherto not made a difference.

-The new president promised to change the situation, but as you can see we still have to spend the night in the queue to get cash out, says Ashley Chikwenezve who is number 20 in the queue.

But even spending the night isn’t a guarantee. Sometimes in the morning, the bank announces it will not dispense cash that day. But today seems to be a lucky day.

-The first people who entered came out carrying cash, so I have a good chance, Ashley says.

 Another customer, Tatendeka Sithole, comes carrying a plastic bag full of 25, 10, and 5 cent coins.

-Soon I’ll have to be a weightlifter in order to bring my money, she says laughing.

After spending the night in the queue she was among the first to get served and could withdraw the maximum daily allowance of 50 dollars. Tatendeka Sithole wraps the bag in a yellow raincoat.

-I brought it in case it would rain during the night, she says.

Her children’s school attendance depends on Tatendeka’s nights in the bank queue. Public transport doesn’t accept card or mobile phone payments.

-My children can only get to school if we have cash.

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, 11 April 2018. Full article (in Swedish) here: https://www.svd.se/har-koar-de-till-banken–i-flera-dygn

Resistance against Mugabe grows in Zimbabwe

Harare. The last two months Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu PF have seen the loudest protests of their 36 years of rule. The reason for the protests is a frustration over the difficult financial situation and president Robert Mugabe’s politics.

– We need these protests in Zimbabwe. We’ve been quiet for too long and we’ve had enough. Hopefully this people’s movement will bring positive changes, like jobs for unemployed academics, says 24-year old Brian Dube. He has a degree in electro engineering but makes ends meet by selling mobile phones.

But at the same time Brian is worried about how he might be affected financially. At the Copacabana market, sellers have been forced to watch their piles of second hand clothes being burnt, and last week traffic came to a standstill in the central parts of Harare after the protesting masses used stones and bins to block the roads.

-The protests can be likened to  those of the Arab Spring, as this rising is also being led by the people and was ignited through social media, says Vince Musewe, political analyst at the think tank Zimbabwe First.

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, 6/9-2016. Full article (in Swedish) here: https://www.svd.se/motstandet-mot-mugabe-vaxer-i-zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s youth has had enough

Article published in OmVärlden
11 October 2016
By Thelma Chikwanha

Zimbabwe. The older generation has let the younger one down. Now young people are protesting in the streets and on social media to express their frustration with Robert Mugabe’s government. Widespread corruption is one of the reasons – it was recently established that diamond revenue worth £1,5 billion has just disappeared.

For the last three months different movements of upset citizens are protesting in Zimbabwe. The protests started after the young pastor Evan Mawarire’s social media post was shared across the country. Using the hashtag #ThisFlag, he encouraged Zimbabweans to hold the government responsible for the collapsed economy.

Many people are saying that the the widespread corruption is one of the main reasons for the financial decline. A number of young leaders are now demanding that the 92-year old president steps down, seeing it as the only solution to the country’s problems. Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu PF, has been in power since the independence in 1980.

The government’s answer to the protests has been to throw young leaders in low standard prisons and put them on trial for law violations, such as violence in a public space. The situation is so tense that new protests happen every day. In the capital city Harare, tear gas, water cannons, and riot police with batons are now a common sight.

Recently, Linda Masarira from Zimbabwe Activists Alliance was released after three months in prison. She was held in isolation in the male section of Chikurubi’s high security prison after having taken part in protests under the hashtag #Shutdownzim2016. She says she will not let herself be scared by the government’s attempts to quiet voices like hers.

-Us young people have joined the fight with strong beliefs, because the country’s problems largely affect us. There are no jobs and we don’t have access to basic social services like health care. That’s why we’re saying that it can’t go on like this. We don’t believe in a successor from Zanu PF. The only way to solve Zimbabwe’s problems is to remove those responsible for 36 years of failures.

According to Zimbabwe’s census bureau, unemployment figures in the formal sector rose from 84 percent in 2011 to 94,5 percent in 2015. This is what is causing the frustration fuelling the protests, particularly amongst the young people who make up 40 percent of the population. Every year, scores of young Zimbabweans finish their university studies without any possibility of finding work afterwards. Patzon Dzamara from Occupy Africa Unity Square says that people are no longer afraid, and that even torture cannot stop the protest movement.

-Zimbabweans are saying that we’ve had enough and the young people are the ones feeling the situation the most. We are educated but there are no jobs. We have to stand up for what we believe in, because nobody is going to fight for us. Even if we haven’t reached the point where Mugabe throws in the towel, the attitude from the authorities who are responsible for maintaining law and order tells us that they are feeling the pressure and that’s a start.

Full article (in Swedish) published in Omvärlden, 11 Oct 2016: https://www.omvarlden.se/Branschnytt/nyheter-2016/zimbabwes-unga-har-fatt-nog/

“Mugabe is the glue in the oppressive system”

Article published in Fria Tidningen
September 28, 2016
By Thelma Chikwanha

The last few months have seen big protests in Zimbabwe, demanding president Robert Mugabe’s resignation. We have met some of the driving forces behind the protests. “We are fighting for a fair society where financial justice, legal security, and democracy are maintained” , says Promise Mkwananzi.

For the last 2,5 months, Zimbabwe has been experiencing a wave of protests demanding Robert Mugabe’s resignation. In September, this made the authorities announce a ban on protesting – despite it being a constitutional right. That in itself is not new. Zimbabwe’s constitution guarantees democracy and a number of rights, but the juridical system is not always free to exercise its powers to enforce the laws. The authoritarian rule of Robert Mugabe and his ruling party Zanu PF means that many key state nominations are partial, especially within the juridical system.

But this time the Supreme Court went against the state and declared the ban as invalid; a real landmark for the protesting masses.

-What happened last week gave us confidence in the higher authorities’ capacity to enforce the constitution, says Promise Mkwananzi, 28-year old spokesperson for #Tajamuka, the movement spearheading the protests in Zimbabwe.

When I meet Mkwananzi he has just been released from prison. He was arrested on the 25th of August this year, accused of public violence when he took part in a demonstration against police brutality, and was denied the possibility of being released on bail by the county court.

-It didn’t take the Supreme Court more than five minutes to grant my inquiry, says Mkwananzi who claims that his case is a sign that more needs to be done regarding the independence of the juridical instances.

For him personally, a few weeks in prison was a small price to pay for the overall fight.

-We are fighting for a fair society where financial justice, legal security, and democracy are maintained. The resignation of Robert Mugabe is the starting point of that.

Promise Mkwananzi’s beliefs are shared by many of those protesting in Zimbabwe. Everyone believes that Mugabe needs to leave his position for the economy to get back on its feet. The 92-year old president has been in power ever since the country became independent in 1980. The economy is on its knees, and community services have completely collapsed.

Article published in Fria Tidningen, 28 September 2016. Full article (in Swedish) here: http://www.friatidningen.se/artikel/124803