BY BLESSED MHLANGA / XOLISANI NCUBE
SKYROCKETING prices, coupled with an unstable local currency, shortages of fuel and energy are taking a huge toll on the suffering Zimbabweans, setting up Zanu PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa for a dramatic fall, opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has warned.
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of the party’s just-ended congress in Gweru at the weekend, Chamisa said the country was facing a long winter owing to the relentless socio-economic and political crisis.
“Winter is coming, you look at how the hard-working people have lost dignity. The teachers, police, military and civilians have lost dignity and they can’t take in that much,” he said.
The local currency’s purchasing power has been eroded over the past week after government removed a fuel subsidy that had, somehow, stabilised prices of most basic commodities.
The ZWL$ has been fast losing value against other hard currencies, trading at 1:8 to the US dollar on the black market as of yesterday, eroding most workers’ salaries to less than US$100 per month.
Chamisa said his party, once it takes over power, would restore the dignity of hard work by curing economic problems in the country.
“We can deliver and restore dignity to the working majority of Zimbabwe. We have a smart plan, but for us to do that, there is need to restore legitimacy in this country,” he said.
“We need to go to the table and ensure that we ring in reforms that ensure we never have contested elections.”
Chamisa warned that if there was no immediate dialogue between his party and Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF, the economic meltdown would explode.
Government has, however, blamed western sanctions for hurting the economy.
But Chamisa said the sanctions mantra was “an excuse by failures whose sole purpose of being in government was entrenching power for purposes of corruption”.
“The country is facing these problems because we have people who have no idea how to run the country, looting and lining their pockets through corruption,” the MDC leader said.
“During the (2009-13) inclusive government, we had these measures, but we delivered. We changed people’s lives. These measures that the US has against Zimbabwe were here during that time.”
His warning came as Cabinet yesterday discussed the price increase of basic goods and services, alleging that this was driven by the parallel USS market which authorities alleged was being influenced by movements on the stock market.
“Of great concern to Cabinet is the fact that the price increases are apparently being fuelled by the parallel market rate,” Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said.
“Government is nonetheless working around the clock to address the issue of price hikes in order to alleviate the suffering of its citizens.”
Among some of its congress resolutions, the MDC called for an all-stakeholders meeting to “locate exit points” from the crisis.
“Concerned by the absence of a national consensus and broad-based inclusive reforms resulting in cosmetic, false and pretentious reforms, congress, therefore, calls for the restoration of trust, confidence and legitimacy in order to create an environment for growth, stability, productivity on the back of domestic and foreign capital flows,” part of the opposition party’s resolutions read.
“Congress reiterated its position, that in the face of continued intransigence by Zanu PF, the people of Zimbabwe have a constitutional right to protest.”
Government has warned that any violent protests will be ruthlessly crushed.