A video of an impassioned Zimbabwe man telling Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangidya (pictured) that the nation does not trust him is causing a stir.
Marshall Shonhayi was attending a meeting held this week between activists – some of them drawn from the #ThisFlag online protest movement – economists and Mangudya.
Tempers have been rising since Mangudya announced at the beginning of May that he planned to introduce bond notes, a local version of the US dollar which is in desperately short supply in Zimbabwe. Many believe that the coming-in of the new notes will trigger hyperinflation and empty shop shelves – just as it happened during the pre-2009 economic and political crisis.
“The thing is… we don’t trust you,” Shonhayi tells the governor in the clip, which has been viewed more than 85 000 times since Friday. It was posted online to a widely-followed #ThisFlag community page.
In a country where speaking out against the authorities can attract the attention of the police, Shonhayi’s courageous claim that it’s actually Zimbabwe’s government and not its citizens who are wasting foreign currency has been praised.
“We’re talking about endless trips to foreign nations,” Shonhayi said in what was almost certainly a reference to longtime president Robert Mugabe’s frequent trips abroad. “We have a government that does not care about us… They are the ones who are consuming.”
Mugabe, 92, has backed the plan to introduce bond notes.
In more signs of economic distress, the finance ministry has had to delay payments for civil servants yet again as it tries to raise funds, according to a statement by senior ministry official Willard Manungo. Even the army – normally a priority for prompt salary payment in Zimbabwe – will see its salaries paid a fortnight later than normal.
Meantime a move by the ministry of industry to ban imports of many goods is being viewed with horror by many Zimbabweans. According to a new regulation brought into effect on Friday, firms will no longer be able to import a wide range of food, furniture, fabric, agriculture and motoring industry products.
The Herald on Saturday quoted industry minister Mike Bimha as saying the move was “meant to support our local industry”.
But online, there were predictions it would lead to empty shop shelves since supermarkets are stocked with products mostly imported from South Africa. Where available, Zimbabwean equivalents are generally more expensive.