MPs warn Mnangagwa

 MPs warn Mnangagwa
Published: 28 April 2019
SOME legislators have warned of impending civil unrest if President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government fails to address imploding prices of goods and services as well as high levels of unemployment.

The warning comes as prices of basic goods, including bread and fuel, continue to skyrocket beyond the reach of the majority of Zimbabweans.

Addressing residents in rural Norton last Monday, independent Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa warned ominously that the security of the nation would be under threat if government continues to play Russian roulette with people's livelihoods.

"If there is anything that will lead the country into ruins, it is uncontrolled price increases. It is a national security threat because the youths are not employed; they cannot afford food and recreation," the Norton parliamentarian said.

He also cautioned against government's default mode of deploying security forces to suppress unrests whenever people demonstrate against difficulties.

"We cannot rely on deploying soldiers and the police each time people complain about price increases which are not matched by increased salaries," said the former Zanu-PF Mashonaland West provincial chairperson.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti weighed in saying the threat to national peace and security was not necessarily the increase in prices but the causes of the increases.

Biti blamed the price madness on Mnangagwa's government which he said is at sea over how to deal with the economic meltdown the country is experiencing.

"The government's failure is what will lead to unrest. What led to the January 14 protests was Mnangagwa's ill-advised announcement of fuel price increases. Why would you increase tax on citizens who are already shouldering the burden of too high taxes? Why would someone introduce an artificial exchange rate? Why would someone introduce an artificial currency, the RTGS (dollar) which we all know is no different from the bond notes? This is what will lead to civil unrest," Biti said.

So bad is the country's economic situation that Biti predicts that Zimbabwe's year end inflation will be at a whopping 400 percent as the nation goes through a second recession within a decade.

For the month of March, inflation went up to 66,80 percent from 59,39 percent the previous month.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that Zimbabwe's economy is heading towards a recession, defined as a period during which trade and industrial activity are reduced — generally identified by a fall in gross domestic product (GDP) in two successive quarters.

GDP is defined as the total market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period.

It includes private and public consumption, private and public investment, and exports less imports.

The IMF now forecasts Zimbabwe's economy to contract by 5,2 percent from an earlier growth projection of 4,2 percent.

"The official rate of inflation is now 66 percent but those tracking the day to day movement of prices will tell you that it is 270 percent.

"In 10 years this regime has taken us through two vicious cycles of disequilibrium. It doesn't need a genius to foresee that year end inflation will be 400 percent (by year end)," Biti said, adding that the country's runaway inflation is being inflamed by low production and insignificant exports, a weak expansionary fiscal policy, the  currency account deficit, among others fundamentals.

"Zimbabwe is running a supermarket economy. If you go into supermarkets you will see that all products are coming from South Africa."

According to the former Finance minister, in addition to the commodification of the United States dollar which has precipitated a black currency market where the greenback is 460 percent to 520 percent superior to the RTGS dollar, the economic rut is being worsened by the lack of faith in Mnangagwa and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.

"Lastly, is lack of confidence; no one believes and trusts in President Mnangagwa, no one believes and trust in ... Ncube," Biti told the Daily News on Sunday.

The escalating cost of living has eroded incomes, resulting in agitation in the labour markets. After Mnangagwa hiked fuel prices by 150 percent in January this year, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called for a hugely successful three-day national shutdown, protesting the desperate situation that its members find themselves in.

The protest, which was meant to be peaceful, turned violent resulting in 16 people dying of gunshot wounds while several others were injured.

More than 1 000 people were arrested as government clamped down on political activists, including ZCTU leaders who were arraigned before the courts.

The case against the ZCTU leaders has since collapsed.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily News on Sunday ahead of the May Day celebrations on Wednesday, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said there is nothing to celebrate this year, as everything that is happening is negatively impacting on the welfare of the workers.

ZCTU, which is the largest labour union in the country, has been pushing for better wages for workers in both the public and private sector, owing to the inflationary environment that has seen prices shooting through the roof against subdued wages.

"It's unfortunate that we have gone a full cycle, from 2008. We never thought we would have a worst day than 2008. It is one of the worst days since independence, besides the one in 2008.

"It is the worst day because workers are facing a plethora of challenges, they have no food, they are walking to work, they have no salary increments and many working families are failing to take their children to school," Mutasa said.

- dailynews
Tags: Mnangagwa,


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