Protests: Writing on the wall for Mugabe

THE protests countrywide against President Robert Mugabe’s failed policies, worsening economic crisis and corruption that brought Zimbabwe to a virtual standstill on Wednesday as people heeded a call to stay-away are a loud and clear message to him that he must shape up or go.

Candid Comment,Faith Zaba

The protests brought the country to a halt as most businesses shut down and youths in Bulawayo’s Makokoba and Harare’s Mufakose, Budiriro and Warren Park D high-density suburbs fought running battles with the police.

Wednesday’s protests were co-ordinated by #ThisFlag fronted by Pastor Evan Mawarire and supported by Tajamuka/Sesijikile, Occupy Africa Unity Square and all opposition parties.

Mugabe banned some imports even when he knows that most traders in the informal sector, which makes up 95% of the country’s employable population, survive on cross-border trade. In protest, cross-border traders last Friday burnt the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) offices at the border post. Instead of listening to them, Industry and Trade minister Mike Bimha remains adamant that the ban will remain on imports for commercial purposes. Industry and Commerce secretary Abigail Shonhiwa however announced yesterday that individual importers had been given a reprieve to import personal goods. This only shows that Mugabe’s government does not give a toss about the people’s concerns.

Governments all over the world put import bans or tariffs on goods to protect their local industry and jobs. But Zimbabwe’s case is awkward as there are no industries and jobs to really protect. Because of Mugabe’s ruinous policies during his 36-year rule, the country has one of the highest unemployment levels with a report by the International Labour Organisation showing that only 5% of the population is formally employed. The majority of the unemployed now survive on cross-border trading.

Banning imports for the poor is akin to cutting off their oxygen supply lines.

Mugabe and his government must understand the situation on the ground. The reason why people have been protesting over the past week is because of Mugabe’s leadership failures, which have spawned a multi-faceted crisis that includes a debilitating liquidity squeeze, cash shortages, low capacity utilisation of less than 35%, company closures and massive job losses.

Many Zimbabweans are fed up with the suffering brought about by his irresponsible and clueless government.

Mugabe and his government must listen to the people. If he can’t then he must shape up or pack his bags and go.

Other leaders do the honourable thing in such situations. Just recently British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

The economic situation in Zimbabwe is far more serious than what is obtaining in the UK. Mugabe’s time is long overdue to such an extent that even if he was to go now, very few people will celebrate because of the severe damage he has already caused, which will take years to fix.

The writing is on the wall. If Mugabe continues to ignore this explosive situation, he will be removed disgracefully and whatever is left of his legacy will be obliterated.