Maimane comes out in support of planned Monday stayaway in Zimbabwe

Mmusi Maimane.
Mmusi Maimane.
Misheck Makora
  • Zimbabweans are calling for a stayaway in protest over the rising cost of living and failing economy.
  • President Mnangagwa has accused businesses with links to the opposition and foreign governments of sabotage. 
  • The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has warned the local currency faces imminent collapse.

South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has joined growing calls in Zimbabwe for a mass stayaway on Monday, 9 May, because South Africa had "paid a heavy price for the oppression in Zimbabwe".

The former leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance said in a tweet: "There is no room for suppression of the rights of the people, including the right to protest. There should be no obstruction of the people. There should be no arrests and intimidation of activists."

His call comes a week after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema made a strong call for Zimbabweans to "go and vote and remove that nonsense that is happening in Zimbabwe and come back if you want to come back. You cannot just fold your hands".

Maimane, who was a critic of the late president Robert Mugabe before the November 2017 coup, and is also critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, added that the problems in Zimbabwe were affecting the whole of Southern Africa.

READ | UK to send all illegal immigrants to Rwanda in move slammed as a 'cash for people' scheme

"We will not ignore brutality and oppression. We cannot repeat the mistakes of 2002 and 2008. We cannot support dictatorship anymore. It is costing us dearly. Costing the whole of SADC,” he tweeted.

 Cancel Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

But Mnangagwa says the economy is being sabotaged by foreign countries and businesses linked to the opposition, as well as foreign embassies stationed in Harare.

"Business cannot purport to support the government by day and sabotage it by night, and thereafter play the victim," he said at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) last week.

Government admitting failure

Chaos in the public transport sector has sparked the latest calls for a stayaway.

In 2020, the government banned private commuter omnibus operators and instructed them to join the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) franchise.

Zupco, a government-owned company founded in 1985, collapsed in 2016 because of corruption linked to senior Zanu-PF officials.

But its comeback in 2020 was linked to Kuda Tagwirei, a businessman now under United States sanctions for being an enabler of the Mnangagwa regime.

Through his company, Lindela, it was reported that he imported buses for resale to the government, all of which were commissioned by Mnangagwa.

While new buses came, private operators were invited to join Zupco, many of whom came in with rudimentary "chicken buses".

But growing disgruntlement from the public has led the government to acknowledge the transport sector's failures.

"Government is concerned about the inconvenience caused to travellers by the shortage of transport. Zupco is engaging private operators to ensure the safety of our travelling public," Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists.

We don't want the Zimbabwe dollar

The local currency in the past week has been in a freefall, despite measures by the central clearing house - the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) - to attempt to inspire confidence in the dollar.

READ | Mugabe-era Zimbabweans who fled to Botswana lose political refugee status after court ruling

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has since warned that the currency is on the "brink of rejection in the face of exchange instability and increasing inflation".

But Deputy Finance Minister Clemence Chiduwa, responding in parliament to questions from  Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Tendai Biti - a former finance minister during Zimbabwe's coalition government - said: "We cannot run a country with a currency that is not ours. What the Honourable member (Biti) is saying does not work. We are going to make it work with the Zimbabwean dollar."

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.  

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