Zimbabwe is headed for an economic “Armageddon” in 2017 as President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF turn their focus to elections taking place the following year, opposition political parties have warned.
By Everson Mushava
The opposition parties and analysts said while 2016 has been one of the toughest years in history due to the unending political and economic crisis characterised by job losses, starvation and cash shortages, among other challenges, next year would see the country sliding back to the dreaded pre-2009 era.
The banking sector, they predicted, would collapse completely due to the introduction of bond notes as demand for the greenback will surge against a dwindling supply while government revenues will further plummet and Mugabe’s regime will embark on unlawful expenditure to salvage the situation — sinking the country deeper into an economic catastrophe.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said signs of the worst to come were already scribbled on the walls for everybody to see, citing bond notes as one of the indicators that the country was gravitating back to the hyperinflation period.
“Obviously, things are not looking good in terms of the economy and the worst is yet to come in 2017,” Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, said yesterday.
“Bond notes are a sign of a return to the 2007 era. There will be shortages of commodities, closure of the few remaining companies and great suffering for the people.”
Tamborinyoka said the continued bickering in the ruling party would further scare away investors who were already sceptical of investing in a country led by a 92-year-old.
However, he expressed hope that the proposed coalition of opposition parties would succeed and deal a blow to Mugabe in the 2018 general elections.
People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti said 2017 would be a completely difficult year as the country’s economic performance was set to worsen under the helpless watch of Mugabe.
“There will be an economic Armageddon; we are going to see the collapse of the banking system. All banks are going to collapse weighed by the demand for the greenback as no one will be making US$ deposits,” Biti said.
“I see a lot of litigation against banks next year as they will fail to provide depositors with their US dollars.
“Government revenue is going to fall by half and there will be a lot of unlawful expenditure, further exacerbating the economic collapse.”
The former Finance minister added: “There will be massive suffering of the people, there will be food shortages. Jobs will be lost and Zanu PF will not be able to concentrate on the economy as usual.
“Possibly, they will put all their energies in rigging the 2018 general elections.
“No investors will come in the country with a lot of factional noises. We are a tiny country with a Gross Domestic Product of $8 billion, yet Mugabe thinks the world owes us something and that the country is a super power.”
On the political front, Biti said the disunity in the opposition camp was set to persist, while Zanu PF infighting would also continue, forcing a major stress on the economy ahead of the elections.
ZimPF leader Joice Mujuru’s spokesperson Gift Nyandoro said the shortages in fuel and other commodities that the country had started to experience was indicative of tough times to come. He said all this had been caused by the introduction of the Zimdollar through the backdoor under the guise of bond notes.
“It is very clear that we are heading for difficult times. Just for example, we are entering 2017 with civil servants unpaid, not bonuses, but their dues.
“There will be continued fights in Zanu PF and Mugabe will be concentrating on the internal fights neglecting the economy,” Nyandoro said.
He said Mugabe’s State of the Nation Address was empty and this showed he was clueless on how to solve the country’s economic woes.
Like Tamborinyoka, Nyandoro expressed hope that the opposition camp would find a compelling need to conclude coalition talks and pull together to unseat the “monster”.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “Zanu PF is terminally fractured. For as long as Mugabe remains at the helm in Zimbabwe, no serious investor will put their money into the Zimbabwean economy.
“We will only attract international crooks, drug peddlers and some other such miscreants of the business community.”
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said the economy was going to deteriorate next year due to lack of a fundamental shift in the macro-economic factors, adding there would be no new money, no tonic changes at political level and no political reforms to stimulate growth.
“In 2017, we will see the continuous deterioration of the physical and mental mortality of Mugabe as he turns 93, not because we hate him, but it’s the work of nature,” Ruhanye said.
“It’s a political variable which is beyond everyone. The centre of power will not hold; we will see more infighting in Zanu PF and it will not mean the strengthening of the opposition.
“We have a party state. The party and the state are conflated. Zanu will be supported by the state, if genuine opposition, not supplanted opposition, doesn’t come together — with or without Mugabe — Zanu PF will be in charge come 2018.
Another political analyst Vivid Gwede said next year would probably see the continuation of the political and economic struggles that Zimbabweans had endured for some years now.
“In 2017, the political dynamics of the forthcoming elections will get clearer and reach the homestretch given that campaigns have already started.
“I do not think Zanu PF will focus on any service delivery issues and sustainable economic solutions, but it will start populist campaign gimmicks,” Gwede said.