Opposition party fractures as violence erupts
Parliament rushes through law in anticipation of bond note introduction
Zimbabwe’s controversial “bond notes” currency, which will be introduced at the end of the month, will be protected by hefty prison sentences.
According to a new law: “Any person who engraves, soils or makes any words, figures, letters or marks, line or devices which resembles in whole or in any part the said bank note is liable to an imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years,” reads a press release from Parliament.
There has been much vocal opposition and many protests against the introduction of the surrogate currency.
Dozens of university graduates in Zimbabwe are taking to the streets in their full graduation regalia under a protest named #ThisGown, to play street soccer with balls made from garbage, and sell sweets and cigarettes. They are protesting Mugabe’s failure in running the country, and the false promise peddled by his ZANU-PF party in the 2013 election campaign to create 2.2 million jobs.
The protests are being organized by a coalition of university graduates called Zimbabwe Coalition for Unemployed Graduates, or ZCUG. The group’s membership has ballooned to over 30,000 unemployed graduates since it was formed in June 2016.
Zimbabwe’s nationwide “shutdown” last week — a boycott of work, shopping and public institutions — was one of the biggest and most successful in recent years. It left streets, shops, banks and malls deserted in the capital city of Harare.
Protesters are demanding government accountability in the face of unpaid wages, corruption and lack of jobs as Zimbabwe’s economy sits on the brink of collapse. The country has been in a currency crisis since 2009 and unemployment is estimated at 80 or 90 percent. Recent cash shortages have forced citizens to queue for days to withdraw money from the banks. Civil servants in Zimbabwe have not been paid since June this year, but members of the security forces are always paid on time with the government living in fear of violent political overthrow.