‘Sad, ugly total chaos in the making in Zimbabwe’

Pretoria – Opposition parties in Zimbabwe, under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) on Wednesday warned that the socio-economic situation in the country was deteriorating to the levels previously seen in 2008.

“We are fast trending towards 2008. They [the government of Zimbabwe] are printing bond notes to bankroll their 2018 election campaign. Sad and ugly total chaos is in the making. [President Robert] Mugabe has threatened to unleash price controls, arrests, and so on but we remain convinced it will not work,” Nera spokesperson Davis Junior Mukushwa told the African News Agency (ANA).

“The economy had generally been performing very badly ever since the introduction of the bond notes. However, that currency [bond notes] which had been officially trading at par with the United States Dollar tumbled last Thursday. Fuel and cooking oil suddenly firmed up and eventually went scarce by Sunday.”

Bond notes are Zimbabwe’s own currency which had been trading at the equivalent of the US dollar.

Mukushwa said fearing the massive food shortages reminiscent of 2008, some Zimbabweans embarked on panic buying of food.

“The entire nation was thrown into a wave of panic buying that has never been witnessed in a non-hyperinflationary period. The pick of the wave was on Saturday, when tuckshops closed and supermarkets ran out of cooking oil,” said Mukushwa.

“By close of business [Saturday], cooking oil two litres was trading from $5 to $8, using the US dollar, bond notes or swipes. Inevitably, most products’ prizes went up. As we speak the inflationary trend is still upward, fuel shortages are worsening and items such as cooking oil continue to vanish from shop shelves.”

Mukushwa said the cash shortages continue to mount, sparking fear in the country. He said surprisingly, informal traders who mainly trade in forex, had a constant supply of cash.

“In addition, the RBZ is worsening black forex trading as new bond notes have been seen on the market in huge quantities. That is impossible unless the money would have been obtained officially. We believe the government and ZANU PF cash barons are being directly supported by [RBZ Governor John] Mangundya to mop up the remaining US dollars. More so confidence of investors and the public has reached its lowest in the ZANU PF government, the RBZ and such other institutions.”

Zimbabwe has been using multiple foreign currencies, including the greenback since 2009, after a rate of inflation that peaked at 500 billion percent rendered the Zimbabwe dollar unusable.

Following highly contested presidential election results, 2008 is remembered as the zenith of shortages of basic commodities including food and fuel in the southern African nation.