Current events in Zimbabwe show that while a week may be a long time in politics, it is really a very short blink of an eye in economics. Zimbabweans on the streets of Harare and Bulawayo may be hopeful for political change, but they are much more sanguine and realistic when it comes to improving the country’s economy.
Presidents can be impeached in days or weeks. It takes years to wreck economies and usually even longer to repair them.
So, will Emmerson Mnangagwa be able to take Zimbabwe’s economy off life support and at least start to put it on the road to recovery? Analysts are very sceptical that a quick solution is even feasible. The euphoria that has gripped the nation has certainly raised hopes that the future will be brighter, but if that improved sentiment is to deliver economic dividends, the government needs to make some drastic reforms.
- Cash injection
The first tool President Mnangagwa would need to even get a recovery kick-started is hard currency. Zimbabwe hasn’t had a currency of its own since 2009, after hyperinflation killed off the old Zimbabwean dollar.
Since then, the US dollar has been the main currency for transactions, as well as the South African rand. And in recent years a cash shortage has been slowly strangling the economy, which is half the size it was at the turn of the millennium.But who would stump up the cash? Western donors will remain wary of a Zanu-PF government which simply sees Robert Mugabe replaced by Mr Mnangagwa.