‘There is no crisis, political or otherwise’ – Government Spokesman But Inflation Hits 870%
16 August 2020
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Nick Mangwana

Zimlive|Zimbabwe’s inflation was 837.53 percent year-on-year in July compared to 737.26 percent the previous month, state statistics body Zimstat said on Saturday.

On a monthly basis, prices increased by 35.53 percent compared to 31.66 percent in June.

Zimstat did not give a reason for the increase but the local currency, which was reintroduced in June last year without sufficient reserves to back it, has been relentlessly depreciating against the United States dollar.

Many Zimbabweans have seen their savings evaporate and still struggle to afford basic commodities such as sugar and the staple cornmeal, with corruption and poverty rife.

The figures were published shortly after a government statement was issued saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had implemented policies “that resulted in a robust economy” and had kept the country “commendably stable”, denying any crisis.

The government statement — published by the state-owned Herald newspaper — was a response to a letter by Zimbabwe’s Catholic Bishops on Friday that deplored a recent crackdown on dissent by Mnangagwa’s regime and a deepening crisis in the country.

Last month, the authorities banned protests planned by an opposition politician and deployed the army and riot police in huge numbers to quell them.

Opposition figure Jacob Ngarivhume, who had called for the July 31 protests against alleged state corruption and worsening economic troubles, was arrested 12 days ahead of the strike.

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono was also detained. They both remain in custody after being denied bail.

More than a dozen protesters, including award-winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga, were arrested on July 31 and later freed on bail. All have been charged with inciting public violence.

The bishops described the clampdown as “unprecedented” and weighed in on the ongoing crisis, which the government has repeatedly denied.

They said the “struggle in Zimbabwe” resulted “in a multi-layered crisis of the convergence of economic collapse, deepening poverty, food insecurity, corruption and human rights abuses”.

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana accused the bishops of joining the “bandwagon of individuals and entities” seeking to invent crises for political gains.

“Government reiterates that Zimbabwe, like most countries in the world is currently grappling with challenges attendant to illegal sanctions, drought and the coronavirus pandemic,” Mangwana said, quoted by The Herald. “There is no crisis, political or otherwise.”

The United States slapped sanctions on Zimbabwean businessman and political operator Kudakwashe Tagwirei days after the July 31 crackdown, calling him “notoriously corrupt”.

The sanctions were issued to commemorate the two-year anniversary of a violent army-led suppression of protests over alleged election fraud, in which at least six people were killed.