BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
AN independent policy research organisation says the country is likely to experience more protests until the government addresses issues of concern to the majority of Zimbabweans.
Speaking at the end of a two-day conference titled First Year of the Second Republic: Continuing With the Old or Breaking With the Past, Sivio Institute executive director, Tendai Muriswa, said there had been a change in the cycle of protests .
Muriswa said intervals between major protests have been shortened to four months in the second republic led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, compared to up to seven months during former President Robert Mugabe’s reign.
“Major protests in Harare normally take place after six to seven months, but since the new regime, the cycle of protests has shortened to intervals of about four months, from August and January,” he said.
“Given the fact that issues are not being resolved, we will see the cycle shortening, so we are likely to receive an increase in the number of protests.”
Muriswa said if there was no production in the agricultural sector, there would be yet another increase of prices of basic commodities in the
second half of the year, igniting dissatisfaction and demonstrations.
“We are in a crisis where one of the areas we are worried about is the agricultural sector. The rains have been erratic and if production is what we are going to need, there is going to be a new stretch on the fiscus, affecting other issues like foreign currency which is already in short supply,” he said.
“If we are found in a place where we a faced with food deficit in the second half of the year, we are going to see another wave of price increases, which will lead to discontentment and uprisings.”
The protests will be catalysed by the use of Internet-based technologies, where dissemination of information is increasingly easy and fast unlike in the past, where in order to organise protests, meetings were organised.
“What has changed is the organising of these protests in that these use a new fluid movement of information that organises protests using technology and we call it hashtagism on social media platforms,” Muriswa said.
“This is different from when there used to be congresses and people would deliberate to plan a shutdown. This is going to be an issue going forward, and we are going to be seeing more of these protests emanating from the use of technology.”
Muriswa urged the government to initiate sustainable solutions in dealing with issues in order to curb impending protests, citing the disorganised re-introduction Zupco commuter buses.
“Government has, since the turn of the century, been applying patchwork to the challenges we have been facing, firefighting from one end to the
other,” he said
“One of the recommendations we had for the government was to remove fuel subsidies of US$130 million per month and buy more buses for Zupco, resuscitate the company by providing subsidies so that those who do not afford cars can use public transport.”