While Brexit deals fail again…
Zimbabwe faces government violence and an internet shutdown following protests over ridiculously high increases in fuel prices.
A country described as ‘hopeful’ only a few short months ago has been forced to face the reality of a continuation of an unstructured economy and corrupt leadership. Desperate times at the end of 2018 saw poverty at new levels as the country’s forced dependance on the ‘Zimbabwean Dollar’ led to a lack of monetary security. With an unrecognised currency and black-market trading of USD, a build up of distress and uncertainty have been rife amongst citizens. Shortages of imported products have arisen and affected locals badly, in particular, a shortage of fuel. Long queues of cars were lined up over the Christmas period, and the struggle to get fuel has spilt into January where there are stories of people sleeping in their cars for several nights in the hope of filling up their tanks.
Earlier this month (January 2019), Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory authorities (ZERA) announced the fuel price had increased by more than 100%, making the price of fuel over $3 a litre. This was as requested by the finance minister and, understandably, the steep hike in price caused an outcry amongst the Zimbabwean citizens, already frustrated at socio-economic shortcomings the country is facing. Following protests and an organised community shutdown of shops and work places on the 14th and 15th of January, the Zimbabwean Goverment responded by cutting the country’s communication off from the rest of the world in what is being called, ‘an internet blackout’.
The blackout has happened amidst violent government-organised raids in township areas in Zimbabwe. Sunday Times journalist Ray Ndlovu says the Zimbabwean government has confirmed 200 arrests and according to Cape Talk, Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says tension is increasing and at least six people have already been killed.
With Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile phone operator, Econet, and others now shut down, it is hard to know what is going on in the country. We hope for strength and pray for safety – these are innocent people who if anything, deserve a voice.