Recent protests in Zimbabwe, fuelled by a massive increase in the fuel prices turned violent. President Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe last year, is not known for his restraint. Though he was not in the country, when the peaceful protests began, Mnangagwa ordered his military to crack down.
Protestors were peaceful but angry over the massive increase in fuel prices. People took to the streets in Harare and Bulawayo and were tear-gassed, shot at and imprisoned without trial. Women were raped. Children were targeted.
All of this for merely protesting against fuel prices that have become untenable.
Most Zimbabweans cannot afford to fill up their tanks, nobody can get to work and people are putting all of their salaries, meagre as they are, on fuel alone. When Mnangagwa was voted into power in August 2018, he promised change. He promised jobs, he promised a better economy and he promised stability.
None of this has materialised. Mnangagwa was on his way to Davos for the World Economic Forum when protests broke out in Zimbabwe. He returned home but rather than attempting to appease the civilians, he ordered a more heavy-handed military intervention.
Things may appear to be quiet now but the country has no money and no prospects. ZANU PF, Mnangagwa’s party, has no clue how to fix the economy, turning to violence and quashing of local citizen’s voices instead.
There are rumours of a divided leadership as well as rumours of a forthcoming coup. Other African countries remain suspiciously quiet, including South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa called for sanctions to be lifted on Zimbabwe, making it quite clear that a coup would not be tolerated.
The price of transport for Zimbabweans is no longer manageable. They cannot travel to work. Selling produce at a market is no longer profitable; people cannot get to the market. And with hyperinflation and a country that adapted bonds and then the US dollar, there is no money.
Mugabe was more interested in his own power and wealth than that of his citizens. Mnangagwa appears to be making the same mistake. Those that thought his reign would be different have been left severely disappointed. Others remember why Mnangagwa’s nickname is ‘The Crocodile’, and just how dangerous a crocodile can be.