2019 an eventful year for Zimbabwe as economy continues to struggle


The death of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on 6 September was one of the biggest events in 2019 for the country, with the year likely to end almost the same way it began as government junior doctors remained on strike over improved working conditions.

Mugabe died in a Singapore hospital on 6 September and was buried at his rural home in Zvimba, Mashonaland West Province, on 28 September after his family turned down the government’s offer to have him buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

The political climate remained toxic with the two major protagonists – President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa – relentlessly throwing brickbats at each other following the disputed 2018 presidential election results.

While the country’s highest court of law – the Constitutional Court – has since settled the matter by declaring Mnangagwa the winner, Chamisa still argues that the incumbent is illegitimate.

Mnangagwa has since come together with smaller political parties under the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) in a bid to address burning political and economic issues.

Recent overtures by former South African President Thabo Mbeki to have a political settlement in the country have been met with enthusiasm in some quarters which think that such a settlement will unlock international goodwill on the country and boost the economy.

While they hope that Mbeki will be able to break the political impasse in the same way he brokered the deal that brought about an inclusive government in 2009, others remain wary and accuse him of having crafted an accord that favored Mugabe ahead of main rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

The opposition leader literally became a sitting duck as Prime Minister until 2013 when the government was dissolved ahead of fresh elections, with Mugabe exercising all the executive powers.

The economy continued to under-perform with Gross Domestic Product projected to contract by 6.5 percent in 2019 amid crippling power and water shortages.

Foreign direct investment remained elusive and Zimbabweans endured persistent increases in prices of basic commodities, fuel and communication services with the International Monetary Fund saying that the annual rate of inflation stood at 300 percent in August.

Local producers and retailers have been feeling the pinch of an inflationary environment where they are selling fewer units.

Despite the unrelenting increases in fuel prices which have been going up almost every week, the commodity remained in short supply most of the year with motorists spending long hours queuing up near service stations waiting for deliveries.

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Charles Rukuni
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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