Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe's businessman Munya Chihota's face shines when he reminds of participating in a March last year with…
Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s businessman Munya Chihota’s face shines when he reminds of participating in a March last year with tens of thousands of people calling for President Robert Mugabe to go down.
The mars came after the military had been taken short and days before Mugabe was forced from power on November 21 in what the veteran leader described as a coup d’état.
“It was so much joy,” said 41-year-old Chihota to AFP, describing the tension of Zimbabwe’s fan-flags and placards, singing songs that encourage an end to the 37-year-old stronghold’s non-armed strongman.
“We were all there. Young, Old, Black, White. It was a collective sense of hope that after the difficulties we had borne out as a nation, things would change,” he said.
“The general feeling was that the system would go.”
But Chihota is now looking back at those euphoric times with mixed feelings.
“Unfortunately, only an individual and some of his hangers were removed and the system remains in place.”
Mugabe, who held power since independence from the British colonial government in 1980, presided Zimbabwe’s decline from a regional power with great potential to a destroyed country from which millions fled.
Many hoped that his case would mark a new era for the country and a rebirth of its economy, but Chihota says that the deal with his plastic manufacturing company is the longest since he began eight years ago.
“Many things have become bad,” he said. “This is definitely not what we expected.”
– Elation addresses desillusion –
Mugabe kept his violence on power by using brutal tactics, providing security forces to crush opponents and rivals.
Finally last year when he reached the age of 93, a long-breeding sequence broke into the open.
The military who feared that Mugabe’s wife Grace, now 53, was busy to take over him, sent thoughts on the streets, seized control and forced the president to resign.
Army’s highest brass began close association Emmerson Mnangagwa, which Mugabe had broken as vice president’s weeks earlier.
Like Chihota, 24-year-old job seeker Belina Mlilo Mugabe recalls the foggy days with a feeling of increased disillusionment.
After marching on the owls of Mugabe, she now realizes: “We made the mistake of believing Mugabe was the only problem.”
“We were used as a panther in the struggle between the government party ZANU-PF fractions and now they do not care about us.”
Mlilo has been unemployed since leaving the college six years ago.
Mnangagwa, who secured his power by winning controversial elections in July, had promised to revive the economy, attract foreign investment and create jobs.
But the difficult economic problems in the Mugabe era endanger the new reality.
Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent and the economy has been cut halfway since 2000 when many white banks without money, a government without money to spend and inflation over 20 percent in October – Zimbabwe’s suffering shows no signs of end.
– “Still Waiting” –
“We are still waiting for investors to come for jobs to be created and prices to come down,” says economist John Robertson.
“The President has made an inroads by arresting certain persons who were corrupted – but the consequences of (Mugabe’s) political decisions remain with us, the government has not changed it.”
The lack of basic goods has created a blooming black market, with some prices rising 200 percent in recent months. A liter of cooking oil can be sold for as much as $ 12 on the street compared to the retail price of $ 3.70.
hopes that the elections on July 30 would mark a new chapter for Zimbabwe was quickly dumped when soldiers opened fire on protesters in Harare even before the results of the presidential election were announced.
Six people were killed – triggering global upheaval and undermined efforts to re-mark Mnangagwa, a veteran 76-year-old ZANU-PF loyalist, as a new face.
The election results were also welcomed by accusations of fraud and opposition supporters and activists have since complained of constant harassment.
“If anything gets worse,” says Ibbo Mandaza, head of the South African Political and Economic Series Trust Think Tank.
“Mnangagwa had the opportunity to redeem his reputation, but it has not happened. The election protection and the right voice blew that chance.”
ZANU-PF defends Mnangagwa’s first year in ecord.
“It has been pronounced freedom and democracy,” insisted the party secretary Simon Khaya Moyo.
“The economy also shows signs of growth with many foreign companies interested in investing. We have had hordes of foreign tourists. There are clear signs that things have changed.”
The opposition movement for democratic change is not the opposite.
“Deficiencies continue unchanged and the government continues to intensify people’s suffering,” spokesman Jacob Mafume told AFP.