BULAWAYO AND HARARE, ZIMBABWE (REUTERS / CITE ZIMBABWE) – Protesters barricaded roads and burned tyres in Zimbabwe on Monday (January 14) as anger over the worst economic crisis in decades spilled onto the streets.
The outrage was sparked by a massive fuel price hike announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday (January 12).
That increase – by 150 percent – was a bid to control a runaway currency crunch, but the move was met with disbelief in a country where over 80 percent of the population is unemployed.
TAXI DRIVER, GERALD KHUMALO,
“I’m now confused about what’s happening in this country. All of a sudden the price of fuel just shot up to $3 per litre, so as it stands now we don’t even know how much to charge our passengers because they don’t even have money, in any case.”
In November, inflation hit 31 percent – the highest its been since 2008 when, under former President Robert Mugabe, it reached 500 billion percent – wiping out savings and pensions and ultimately leading to Zimbabwe abandoning its currency in favor of the dollar.
On Friday (January 11), the Zimbabwean finance minister said a new currency would be introduced in the next 12 months, as the next measure to end the cash crisis.
But in the meantime, the currency shortage has plunged the country into economic disarray. The price of basic goods has spiraled and medical supplies are scarce.
Motorists wait for hours to fill up at petrol stations where soldiers are often deployed to break up fights over who is next in line.
The Zimbabwean authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of post-election violence in August in which six people were killed after the army intervened.
Riot trucks patrolled downtown Harare on Monday (January 14) and some businesses closed early.
Parents were called to pick up their children from school as the population braces for a potential flare-up in violence.