Now that Mnangagwa is gone, can Mugabe fix the economy?


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On the streets yesterday morning, the US dollar was still trading at a premium of up to 40 percent on the bond note, and as high as 70 percent on electronic transfers. According to a recent survey by Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, the price of a basket of selected basics has risen over 100 percent in less than a month.

At a hardware store in Msasa, Harare, last Friday, a staffer whispered to a client asking for a quotation for a range of building materials: “We are no longer allowed to do this (print out quotations).” This is because the prices keep changing. At the store, price tags are no longer printed below each product as before; just one list at the end of the shelf, because it is easier for the shop to change and reprint.

Cash shortages are deepening, with Zimbabweans finding themselves more and more isolated from the outside world as one bank after another cuts off international card transactions. Bank queues remain, the starkest representation of which are the pensioners who must sleep outside banks for their monthly $80 pay out.

Mugabe and his acolytes are toasting to yet another well-fought victory in his many battles to retain power. The battle was never about which faction had the best ideology or the best plan for the economy. It was, as ever, about keeping power; power not to be used to for good, but power just for power’s sake.

When the next succession battle comes – yes, there will be another one – the pensioners outside banks will once again be left out in the cold, literally. They, like the economy, do not have faction that fights for them.

The Mnangagwa faction was accused of sabotaging the economy. Now that the faction has been fixed, will the economy also be fixed?

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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