Zimbabwe. According to Countryaah.com, Zimbabwe Independence Day is April 18. There was no end to Zimbabwe’s political and economic chaos. At the end of the year, the inflation rate exceeded 600%, and more than 70% of the adult population lacked work. The country left the Commonwealth in protest of continued suspension because of irregularities in the 2002 presidential election and was threatened by exclusion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for not fulfilling its commitments.
In addition to the commodity shortage that plagued residents for several years, there was also an acute shortage of money during the year. The government banned “hoarding” of banknotes, and most banks did not allow larger withdrawals of cash than the equivalent of just under SEK 50. A new banknote in the denomination 1,000 Zimbabwean dollars was introduced in October, but in practice corresponded to only a few kronor. Various attempts to solve the shortage of cash by means of provisional check systems had little effect. The government was forced to admit that the currency lost almost all its value and changed the rate of foreign trade to 800 Zimbabwean dollars per US dollar, against 55/1 earlier. In the free market, the Zimbabwean dollar had long stood at 1,500/1. Increases in gasoline prices by around 500% meant that trips to and from workplaces could take up to 80% of income.
Production of the most important export of tobacco was halved, mainly due to the unrest in connection with the government’s land distribution program. Not even half of the approximately 300,000 people allocated to agricultural land had put it into service. Reduced food production also caused more than 5.5 million Zimbabweans to be starved.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested in June and charged with treason, accused of ordering President Robert Mugabe to be deposed. He was released on bail after two weeks. In November, after a long break, another treason case was resumed against Tsvangirai, according to which he would have planned to murder Mugabe. At the same time, the Harare Supreme Court began reviewing the opposition party’s MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) appeal of the outcome of the 2002 presidential election, when MDC’s Robert Mugabe prevailed through gross cheating.
The only independent daily newspaper Daily News was closed in September, after refusing to register in accordance with the country’s new press laws. Courts in various instances supported the newspaper’s right to come out, but the State Media Commission saw with the help of the police to stop any attempt by the newspaper to resume publication.
Border guards arrest food smugglers
Hundreds of Zimbabweans have been arrested after crossing the border into South Africa and trying to smuggle food back into Zimbabwe. Since the first years after the turn of the millennium, when food shortages began to become apparent in Zimbabwe, illegal trade between the two countries has become a lucrative business and a lifeline for many. On 1 October, South Africa opened several international borders that had been closed since 27 March.
Teachers’ strike when schools open
Teachers go on strike and demand higher pay while schools open after being closed for six months due to the corona pandemic. The general secretary of one of the country’s largest teachers’ unions says that today’s salaries cannot be lived on. Inflation is over 700 percent and for each month the value of wages erodes. Teachers can no longer afford to send their own children to school. Earlier this year, the country’s nurses also went on strike against low wages and a lack of protective equipment. Nurses resumed work in September.
Journalist released on bail
Digging journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume are being released on bail pending trial. The two have been in custody since the end of July (see 31 July 2020) accused of incitement to violence. Chin’ono and Ngarivhume are vocal critics of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s increasingly harsh rule. The president’s promises to boost the economy, fight corruption and poverty have not come true. Many Zimbabweans instead believe that their living conditions have deteriorated since Mnangagwa took power in November 2017.
In February 1980, free elections were held. ZANU chose to stand independently of ZAPU and gained a pure majority in parliament, with 20 out of a total of 100 seats reserved for whites. All of these were won by RF in a separate election. ZANU won 57 of the remaining 80 seats, ZAPU took 20 and UANC 3. Robert Mugabe formed a unity government with members also from ZAPU and the white minority, and became Zimbabwe’s prime minister from independence, April 18, 1980. Canaan Banana became president. Mugabe placed great emphasis on reconciliation between the people groups, with assurances that reprisals against the former oppressors would not be implemented. The white minority lost its political power, but retained its dominant economic position. Nevertheless, during the first ten years of independence, the white people group was halved, to approximately 100,000. Immediately after independence, the two guerrilla forces were integrated with the Rhodesian army into one national defense force.