There are several types of industries in Zimbabwe and the sector was relatively well developed early on. But the companies were hit hard by the deep economic crisis that began in the late 1990s. Despite some stabilization in the economy, the industry is still struggling to recover.
In connection with the political turmoil during the first years of the 2000s, the loyalist militia occupied several factories or extorted extortion against the owners. Many of them chose to leave the country. Lack of capital and constant electricity cuts are continuing problems, as are foreign competition and declining demand in the domestic market. The sector produces below its capacity.
In addition to the mining industry (see Natural Assets and Energy), the manufacturing industry is significant, with production of textiles, clothing, furniture, plastic items and processed foods, among other things.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Zimbabwe. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
When huge diamond deposits were found in the Marange field in 2006, the regime took control of the field. The rights have since been disputed and the regime has been accused of massacres on miners.
The Vice President’s ex-wife is charged with attempted murder
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s ex-wife appears in court after being arrested by the country’s anti-corruption unit. Marry Mubaiwa is charged with corruption, money laundering and attempted murder of her husband.
The president demands loyalty from the members
13th of December
At the Zanu-PF annual congress, the party declares that it will defend its position of power by all means. Disagreements within the party will not be tolerated. President Emmerson Mnangagwa also warns against political rivals trying to recruit party members and divide Zanu-PF. The warning comes days after ex-minister Saviour Kasukuwere said he plans to return from exile to challenge Mnangagwa in the 2023 presidential election.. He was excluded from the party in 2017.
Millions need food help
A very severe drought and several years of bad harvests have worsened the food situation in the country. The United Nations appeals for an extra grant of 200 million US dollars to avoid a crisis. UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, says Zimbabwe is facing a hunger disaster where 60 percent of the population does not have enough food. At the end of the year, 7.7 million are estimated to be in need of emergency assistance. The situation has arisen through a combination of political polarization and economic as well as financial problems, says Elver. According to Elver, unpredictable weather has also contributed.
Lawyers in protest against police brutality
The country’s lawyers are demonstrating against the police’s brutal methods that they believe have worsened since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in 2017. They demand a halt to state-sanctioned violence and the police’s assault on civilians. This is not the first time the lawyers are protesting on the streets of the capital Harare. In January, a demonstration was held in which the lawyers demanded the restoration of legal certainty. (see January 29, 2019).
Doctors strike in solidarity
Elderly doctors in general health go on strike to show solidarity with their younger colleagues. In early September, newly graduated doctors began a strike with demands for higher wages. In the inflation-heavy Zimbabwe, a doctor’s starting salary cannot be lived on. The government has responded by dismissing nearly 500 striking doctors. The senior doctors are protesting the dismissal and demanding that their younger colleagues get the job back. The health sector is in deep crisis and there is a lack of basic equipment, medicines and personnel. The doctors call the situation “a silent genocide targeting the people of Zimbabwe”.
Police brutality against opposition supporters
20th of November
Police in the capital Harare brutally beat opposition supporters gathered outside the headquarters of the country’s largest opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The party’s supporters had come to listen to MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s speech. Eleven people, including some bystanders, are arrested and taken away by police, according to human rights lawyers on the scene. In a separate incident, the prosecutor withdraws the allegations of treason directed at the activist Evan Mawarire. He was arrested in January when he urged the Zimbabweans to stay home from work for a day in protest of doubling the gasoline price (see January 14, 2019).
New banknotes are launched
The central bank introduces new banknotes and coins in an attempt to remedy the shortage of funds. In early 2009, it became legal to use foreign currency instead of domestic Zimbabwean dollars. It was a way to overcome the rampant inflation that prevailed at the time. In June this year, the use of US dollars, which has become the common currency in the country, was banned. The Zimbabwean dollar is now slowly being reintroduced, but the lack of cash means that most transactions are done digitally. The growth target is set at 3 percent, but the country’s economy is in crisis and inflation is at 300 percent.
Protest train against financial sanctions
Thousands participate in the government’s organized demonstration against the financial sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU against Zimbabwe in 2002. Robert Mugabe was then president and the sanctions were directed at Mugabe’s inner circle, companies that stood the regime close and high in administration. In recent years, the sanctions have been relaxed, but dozens of people are still on the sanctions lists, including President Mnangagwa. The incumbent president blames the country’s economic crisis on the sanctions.
New report highlights abuse of civilians
The umbrella organization Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum publishes a report that addresses serious criticism of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government. The report describes how security forces are constantly trying to violate the civil liberties of political freedom and rights. The military’s involvement in domestic politics has become more and more pronounced and its abuse has reached new levels, according to the report. While Amnesty International has criticized Mnangagwas government of abuse and systematic violations of human rights (see August 26, 2019).
President Mnangagwa urges patience during the crisis
In his annual speech to the nation, President Mnangagwa admits that the country is going through a period of economic hardship and asks its compatriots to be patient. Over the past year, Zimbabwe has experienced the biggest economic downturn in twelve years, writes the AFP news agency. Lack prevails on, among other things, basic commodities, fuels and electricity. In August, inflation was 300 percent. The United Nations Special Envoy for Zimbabwe noted at a visit to the country at the end of September that political, economic and social conditions had deteriorated sharply since the summer 2018 elections.
Ex-President Mugabe dead
Former President Robert Mugabe of the country dies, 95 years old. Mugabe led Zimbabwe by iron hand from 1980 to 2017. After some time of discussion between the state and the family about where he should be buried, Mugabe is buried in his home town. It happens at the end of September.
Mnangagwa’s board is criticized by Amnesty
Amnesty International gives President Mnangagwa’s government stinging criticism in a report. Mnangagwa is accused of having mercilessly and systematically violated human rights during his first year in power. According to Amnesty, the government under Mnangagwa has increasingly circumscribed freedom of expression, right of assembly and right to organize. The report comes after the shootings of protesters (see July 20, 2018 and January 14, 2019), other cases of violence against protesters and a large number of arrests of oppositionists.
Demonstrations are prohibited
20th of August
For the third time in less than a week, the police are prohibiting a demonstration against the deteriorating living conditions in the country. This time, a march had been planned in the town of Gweru. Earlier this week, manifestations were banned in the capital Harare and the country’s second city of Bulowayo. In Harare, some protesters defied the ban and police used tear gas to disperse those gathered. Twelve people are reported to have been injured and around 100 arrested. Just over a week after the Harare protest, one of the opposition party MDC’s leader, Amos Chibaya, is arrested. He is held responsible for the illegal protest in Harare.
Minister of corruption suspected of being kicked
President Mnangagwa dismisses the country’s tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is charged with seven cases of corruption. Mupfumira was arrested in July and is the first in Mnangagwa’s government to face corruption. The charges relate to Mupfumira’s time as Minister of Welfare until 2017. At that time, the corresponding US $ 94 million disappeared from the country’s pension fund.
Corporate ownership law is scrapped
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube presents his half-year budget and announces that the disputed law that regulated foreign ownership of Zimbabwean companies (Indigenization and Empowerment Act) should now be completely abolished. The section of the law that set the limit for foreign ownership to 49 percent was abolished for most industries in March 2018, but not for the companies that extract diamonds and platinum. Now, Minister of Finance Ncube announces that the restrictions on foreign ownership are also lifted for these companies. The budget also includes an increase in electricity prices of between 200 and 400 per cent in order to reduce the demand for electricity. Electricity production does not meet demand, so the electricity grid has been switched off for up to 18 hours per day in recent months. Funds are also set aside for food aid to over 750,000 households affected by drought since January.
Confusing about currencies
The central bank announces that it will no longer be allowed to use US dollars and the South African rand as means of payment. Instead, the provisional currency that has been used since 2016 will constitute the country’s new currency and is called new Zimbabwean dollars, says the bank. The provisional currency is available both as banknotes (bonds) and in electronic form (RTGS). The message announces confusion within the business community, writes AFP news agency.
White former landowners are offered compensation
The government announces that funds were allocated to compensate the former landowner who got rid of his land through the controversial land reform initiated in 2000. However, compensation should only be given for any improvements made by the former owners on the farms and not for the land itself. During the land reform, more than 4,000 of the country’s 4,500 white landowners got rid of their farms. The reform led to a collapse in agricultural production and the country became dependent on food imports.
The relationship with Botswana is improving
President Mnangagwa receives his colleague from Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who offers Zimbabwe financial assistance in the form of loans equivalent to US $ 600 million and expert assistance to develop the country’s diamond industry. Masisi calls her visit to Harare “historic” and the two leaders say they will work for improved relationships in the future. Botswana and Zimbabwe had strained relations until Robert Mugabe’s departure in 2017. Masi’s predecessor, Ian Khama, strongly criticized Mugabe.
The government launches currency reform
The government is implementing a currency reform which means that the local currency that exists both as banknotes (bond notes) and as an electronic variant (RTGS) should be able to be exchanged for foreign currencies. When the local currency was introduced in 2016, it received the same value as a US dollar. That value has been retained on paper but in reality the local currency has been worth much less. The reform will adjust the value of the currency and the government hopes it will stabilize the market and curb black exchange.
Crime to claim victory in elections
Tendai Biti, one of the leaders of the opposition party MDC, is convicted of violating the electoral law when, after the summer 2018 election, he declared himself victorious in the presidential election. As a punishment, Biti will have to pay a fine of $ 200 or go to jail for a week. The MDC believes the election was rigged and does not recognize Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the presidential election.
The opposition nobly invited to dialogue
6th of February
President Mnangagwa invites a national dialogue with the aim of dealing with the deepening crisis in the country (see January 14, 2019). The twenty parties participating in the summer 2018 elections are invited. However, the leader of the largest opposition party MDC, Nelson Chamisa, declines no. Chamisa does not acknowledge Mnangagwa’s victory in the presidential election and wants a national dialogue to be led by the regional cooperation organization SADC.
Attorneys protest against legal abuse
Hundreds of attorneys go out and demonstrate in the capital against what they describe as summary trials against the people arrested during the widespread mid-month riots. More than 1100 people arrested during the protests. Hundreds have been brought to trial immediately without their lawyers having been able to get involved. In many cases, the charges have also changed abruptly. The protesting lawyers demand that the rule of law be restored.
Death shootings stop protests against austerity
A three-day general strike begins at the invitation of the country’s largest trade union ZCTU. Violent demonstrations are taking place across the country, especially in the major cities of Harare and Bulowayo as well as in places in the south where the opposition has strong support. Businesses are being looted and cars are set on fire by residents who were upset that President Mnangagwa announced two days earlier that gasoline prices would double. The unrest is fought by force by police and security forces. At least 17 people lose their lives. Hundreds of people are injured, of which nearly 80 are shot. The police and military are also accused of torture and rape. Over 1,100 people have been arrested, including leading activist Evan Mawarire, who was later charged with undermining a legally elected government and for calling for violence. The chairman of ZCTU, Peter Mutasa, and Secretary General Japhet Moyo is arrested and prosecuted for undermining operations. A number of MPs for the opposition party MDC also fall behind the lock and boom.
Teachers also strike for pay in dollars
State-employed teachers initiate a strike. Teachers demand salary in US dollars. Since December 1, a comprehensive medical strike has been carried out with, among other things, the same requirements (see December 1, 2018).