Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke of “truly remarkable” progress and said jobs and economic growth would come in a country beset by 18-hour power cuts and triple digit inflation.
While Mnangagwa, who replaced Robert Mugabe as leader of the southern African nation after a coup in November 2017, said his time in power had “not been easy” progress had been made in implementing economic reforms and easing the country’s international isolation. Mnangagwa replaced a leader who ruled for more than three decades during which the country lost access to international lenders and its exports collapsed after a violent land reform program that saw the seizure of commercial farms.
“We have made a return back into the international fold after two decades of isolation,” he said in a state of the nation address on national television. “We are on the right path and our ambitious vision is within grasp. We continue to engage international financial institutions and the ongoing discussions with our creditors is going well.”
Mnangagwa’s optimism jarred with a supplementary budget released by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube earlier this month where the release of annual inflation figures was suspended for six months, power prices were increased fivefold and the government admitted that the economy would contract for the first time since 2008.
Since he took power Zimbabwe has eased laws that required all mines to be controlled by black citizens of the country and ended the use of the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies after crippling shortages of cash. Still, annual inflation has risen to 176% and is estimated to be three times that if black-market exchange rates are used. There are also shortages of fuel and bread and the biggest opposition party plans a protest on August 16.
“Painful but necessary reforms have been made in the year gone by,” Mnangagwa said. “While the beginning may be painful, the medium term will bring about growth and jobs. ”
In October, he said he will travel to Russia for a state-visit, his second to the country this year, after an invite from President Vladimir Putin.