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5 things Zimbabweans would wish away in 2017

Dec 30 2016 19:33
*Malcom Sharara

Harare - As the year 2017 beckons, there are many things Zimbabweans would, given the choice, wish away never to be allowed space in the new year.

Here's a list of some of the things we think Zimbabweans would rather not experience again or wish away: 

The cash crunch

For the better part of 2016, Zimbabwe was characterised by monetary issues, from depleted nostro accounts to cash shortages and eventually to bond notes.

Depleted nostro accounts meant government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had to come up with a priority list, which meant certain products could not be imported in the quantities and at the times desired by the importers. Cash shortages also meant depositors had to spend productive hours and some nights in bank queues.

It meant the choice to buy from cheaper informal market players was also taken away, as electronic transactions such as swipe machines became the only other alternative. There is no doubt most Zimbabweans would not want to go through the same experiences in 2016.

Police brutality

The right to demonstrate peacefully in public is guaranteed by the constitution and must be respected by the law enforcement agencies, as long as it is done in a peaceful manner. Chapter 4, Section 58, article (1) of Zimbabwe's new constitution reads: "Every person has the right to freedom of assembly and association, and the right to assemble or associate with others."

Section 59 of the same chapter says: “Every person has the right to demonstrate and present petitions, but these rights must be exercised peacefully.” While the new constitution is as clear as stated above, violent demonstrations were the order of the day with both protesters and the police at one time or the other being perpetrators.

In the process, innocent civilians ended up at the receiving end of police brutality as water cannons were unleashed to anyone in sight. Again, most Zimbabweans would not want to experience the beatings in 2017.

Bickering between government ministers

For any major economic policy to gain confidence of the general public and investors alike, government officials have to speak with one voice and avoid unnecessary bickering.

Unfortunately, bickering was the order of the day, highlighting President Robert Mugabe’s inability to manage his cabinet. We will just mention the discord between Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and his indeginisation counterpart Patrick Zhuwawo.

The two argued over the re-engagement between Harare and its creditors, as well as about indigenisation policy. The discord no doubt brought more uncertainty and unrest on the part of the general public and investors.

Repeat bickering within government corridors is one thing most Zimbabweans would want avoided in the coming year.

Food shortages

Sometime in May, the United Nations reportedly said nearly five million people in Zimbabwe - half of the country's rural population - needed food assistance as a result of the drought that affected the whole of southern Africa.

The months of November, December and January were forecast to be the worst, with supplies long gone.  A total $360m was needed to help import maize requirements, with aid agencies providing the bulk of the funding.

It is highly likely that most Zimbabweans are praying that the current rains continue, so that the hunger that stalked the country this year will not be repeated in the next.

Mugabe’s successor

The ruling Zanu-PF party’s congress earlier in December endorsed Mugabe as its candidate for the 2018 election. While the endorsement was met with resounding applause from thousands of supporters who attended the annual conference, most Zimbabweans would hope there would be no such endorsement at the 2017 annual conference.

Without even looking at what he has achieved or not, the man will be 94 years old in 2018. Give him a rest.

* Malcom Sharara is Fin24’s correspondent in Zimbabwe. Views expressed are his own.

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malcom sharara  |  zimbabwe  |  opinion
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