Jean-Marc Ferré

World News


My Predictions for Zimbabwe in 2018

Some developments that might unfold in 2018 in Zimbabwe.

Politics: The easy projection would be to forecast a Zanu-PF victory, what with the opposition in shambles and the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa riding on the crest of a wave. However, there might well be a crushing loss for Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF has never been this divided and the bhora musango of 2008 will look like child’s play. Many point to the opposition being in shambles as a reason for Zanu-PF’s sashaying to an easy victory, but in 2008, the opposition was similarly in shambles, but still managed to pull off an upset. Whether there will be a power transfer is another discussion.

Economy: Forget the propaganda, the economy will never improve until there are credible, free and fair elections. As the cash shortages worsen and prices soar, the idea of price controls will become more tempting for the government and price controls might be introduced. Price controls will not be overt, but retailers could be threatened with all manner of sanctions if prices continue to rise.

This could lead to shortages and play right into the hands of the opposition. Early elections could produce a positive outcome for Zanu-PF, before things go pear-shaped as they are bound to.

Social: The new administration is prone to “command” rather than persuade and the president has a history of acting like an authoritarian enforcer for Zanu-PF. Thus, activists will soon find democratic spaces shrinking and freedom of the media will be threatened. A few demonstrations will be allowed and the private media will operate, but there’s an underlying atmosphere of fear and this will encourage self-censorship. The arrest of members of the Mthwakazi Republic Party for demonstrating against Mnangagwa could be a harbinger of how this administration deals with dissent.

Media: There has been some convergence of views in both the private and public media since Mnangagwa took control and it is important for the private media to find its niche and stay true to its values –  holding those in power to account -  instead of being seen as cheerleaders like their counterparts in public media. I am not calling for senseless hostilities, but it is important to fact-check the leaders and question their previous records, instead of just reporting unquestioningly what a minister has said without any analysis.

The media will realize some profit as a result of the elections this year, but in the long run, this is an area that will continue to shrink. Unlike developed countries, the shrinkage will not be caused by online media, but rather by the collapsing economy, which is characterised by a lack of disposable income. Being multi-skilled will be important as those who have only mastered print or broadcast will slowly be pushed out.