Village Rhapsody: Nothing will work when the politics is not right

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The phrase “political economy” has entered the dictionary of the World Bank and other development organisations around the world.

Academic interest in the political economy components of development has also increased, particularly in economics and political science departments at premier business schools.

With a chain of insights that drive the growing interest in political economy in present Zimbabwe, it should bother our leaders to address the main cause of our problems.

First, there is the fact that reforms often fail even when solutions that would improve public welfare are available.

The political crisis is crippling the Zimbabwe economy and it is apparent that the ruling party is both inefficient and unfair to the vast majority of poorer citizens.

The political economy has an impact on many economic and social domains, including financial market trading decisions and the behavioural biases of investors, managers, and other economic agents.

Given the current political climate in Zimbabwe, enacting solid economic policies may be challenging until the political issue is resolved.

As the country prepares for national elections in 2023, the main opposition Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) has witnessed an increase in repression and discriminatory treatment by state agents.

Mass arrests and police raids on the residences of opposition party members raise major fears about violence and intimidation ahead of the approaching general elections, which have shifted the attention away from Zimbabwe’s economic problems.

The continued clashes between Zanu PF and CCC supporters at Mbare’s Mupedzanhamo flea market in Harare remain a source of concern, highlighting why there is an urgent need to resolve the country’s political crisis.

Police went door-to-door last week, arresting CCC and Zanu PF suspects who have been spreading mayhem at Mupedzanhamo, burning rival vending stalls and pelting each other with stones as vending space battles got violent.

The dispute between Zanu PF and opposition supporters at the Mupedzanhamo flea market dates back to the Covid-19 shutdown when traders were driven out of the designated market location to prevent the spread of the virulent disease.

The chaos at the market reflect a wider problem in today’s Zimbabwe.

Assault, smash and grab, and house invasions are all prevalent types of violent crime in this country.

Armed robberies committed by serving  army and police personnel have escalated.

Local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to respond effectively to significant criminal situations.

Political insecurity and the threat of violence continue to pose a threat to Zimbabwe’s economy.

President Emerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded the late Robert Mugabe, has no clear strategy to address the mounting economic problems.

Given the current political situation, the smooth transfer of power in the upcoming elections is questionable. Zimbabwe’s economy remains fragile and vulnerable to political upheavals.

When Mnangagwa assumed office, there was time and opportunity to take decisive action to lessen the possibility of political chaos and civil unrest in Zimbabwe while also laying the groundwork for a change to better governance and economic prosperity.

Mnangagwa, however, is now seen as being worse than Mugabe when it comes to marshalling the economy.

At the same time, the government’s suppression of fundamental freedoms continues.

Previous crises have resulted in waves of economic refugees escaping the country and burdening Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the process.

Restored instability in Zimbabwe would pose a unique challenge for South Africa, which is already struggling to meet its own pressing economic and social needs.

Zimbabwe’s risk factors for political instability are increasing.

Although Mnangagwa continues to tighten his grip on power within both the government and the ruling Zanu-PF, questions remain about how long the tight discipline will last.

A political change is required when there is an economic crisis.

Zimbabwe may be growing more distant from the West, but it is still affected by the global economy.

The future of Zimbabwe appears to be paved with bad economic news.

Zimbabwe’s problems, which have been exacerbated by two decades of authoritarian rule and poor economic management, may be difficult to address.

Any successor to Mnangagwa will face a bitter political legacy as well as difficult economic conditions.

Evans Mathanda is a journalist and development practitioner who writes in his capacity. For feedback email: [email protected] or call 0719770038 and Twitter @EvansMathanda19

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