Zimbabwe’s current inflation rate of 97.4 percent has raised worries that the country is on the precipice of repeating the economic crisis of 2008. However, former Finance Minister Tendai Biti argues that the current crisis is fundamentally political, not economic, and driven by a lack of government legitimacy. “You can never govern without the consent of the people. … People did not give their consent to the political outcome of [the] 30 July 2018 [election].” Hyperinflation, youth unemployment, and poverty—79 percent live below the poverty line—raise the threat of another military coup, he says.
“There is a crisis that is worsening, there is a crisis that may implode. We need a dialogue to create a soft landing for Zimbabwe.” According to Biti, the country is in urgent need of making reforms to the electoral process, eliminating state capture, increasing institutional independence, and building a military that serves the people, not the party.
Regional actors are critical to resolving the crisis, and he called on the Southern African Development Community to hold an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe to ensure that there’s genuine dialogue between the government and opposition. With millions of Zimbabweans residing in neighboring countries, Biti said that SADC governments need to realize that Zimbabwe’s crisis is not just a foreign policy issue for them, but a domestic issue as well. “There can be no Zimbabwean solution without the involvement of its African neighbors.”
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Tendai Biti on Regional Security Dynamics in Africa,” video, June 25, 2019.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Lost Opportunity in Zimbabwe,” Spotlight, August 13, 2018.
- Paul Nantulya, “Reform and Renewal in Zimbabwe or More of the Same?” Spotlight, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, June 28, 2018.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Five Issues to Watch as Zimbabwe’s Transition Unfolds,” Spotlight, November 16, 2017.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Renewal in Zimbabwe: Tendai Biti Shares His Reform Agenda,” video, May 23, 2016.
- Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Global Security Trends: Implications for Africa,” video, May 12, 2016.
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