Demonstrations against Zimbabwean economy coming

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Zimbabwe’s main opposition party is planning street demonstrations next week to protest government’s handling of the economy, mired in its worst crisis in a decade and plunging citizens into poverty.

The southern African nation is experiencing shortages of foreign currency, fuel and bread as well as 18-hour power cuts. Power outages threaten mining and industrial output and upended lives.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will hold marches in the capital on 16 August against corruption, unemployment and power and fuel shortages and a deteriorating economy, the party said in a notice to police.

“The national challenges are a result of a governance and legitimacy crisis arising primarily out of the disputed election of July 2018,” national organising secretary Amos Chibaya said in the notice.

The departure of long-time leader Robert Mugabe after a coup in 2017 was greeted with euphoria and hope, but this turned to despair as his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, failed to revive the economy or usher in meaningful political reforms.

Chibaya said demonstrators would present a petition to parliament after the march.

Luke Tamborinyoka, MDC deputy spokesman, confirmed the party notified police, adding “we hope police will allow us to exercise our constitutional right”.

Police spokesman Paul Nyathi could not immediately comment.

The MDC does not recognise Mnangagwa’s presidency and maintains he rigged last year’s vote, charges the 76-year-old leader denies. Last week, MDC legislators boycotted the mid-term budget statement because Mnangagwa was present.

The last big protest in Zimbabwe, organised by the main labour union in January against a sharp fuel hike, turned deadly after it spilled onto the streets and was met by an army clampdown in which more than a dozen people died.

Everyday life is getting increasingly tough, with prices of basic goods spiralling and medical supplies in short supply. Motorists wait for hours to fill up at fuel stations despite fuel prices having risen more than 500% this year.