#ShutDownZimbabwe2016: What is behind the protests?


Zimbabweans are being urged on social media and the messaging service WhatsApp to observe a two-day national “shutdown” in protest at the government’s alleged mismanagement of the country.

A one-day stay away was organised last week and led to a complete shutdown of schools, businesses and shops across the country.

It was the biggest strike action since 2005.

Why are people protesting?

Zimbabwe has run out of money.

Last month, all civil servants were paid late. Soldiers and police were paid after a two-week delay and teachers and nurses were among those who were only paid in the wake of last week’s stay away.




These salaries have to be paid in foreign currency as Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 in order to stem runaway inflation.

As the country is importing more than it is exporting, it cannot pay its bills.

The coalition government formed with the opposition, which was in power from 2009 until 2013, halted the economic free-fall.

But things started to flounder again after President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party won elections in July 2013 on a mandate of “indigenisation” and a promise to create two million jobs.

This has required all companies to cede economic control to black Zimbabweans.

With echoes of country’s land reform programme, which saw the seizure of land from some 4,000 white farmers, some detractors say this has discouraged much-needed foreign direct investment.

How bad is the situation?

Many people literally cannot afford to feed themselves. This has been exacerbated by a severe drought – the worst in decades.




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