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From the November coup to Austerity: Can Zimbabwe’s Bones Rise Again?

By Tinashe L. Chimedza & Tamuka C. Chirimambowa

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Prof Mthuli Ncube and IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde.

We are back again to where Dambudzo Marechera was screaming, in an Oracle to the Povo, drawing harrowing pictures “Of lean harried squatters’, ‘And fat pompous armed overlords’. But we must leave the Vengere anarchist and look far, into the abdomen of Europe in the 1800s so that we have a better grasp of Zimbabwe’s doddering political economy over-loaded by a political class failing to rise above its narrow parochial interests to feed itself obese from the ‘country’s fat’.

It was in the upheaval and maelstrom of a Europe grappling with early industrialism and the flares of ‘revolution’, that a classical political economist said, ‘the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’. This very much sums up the state of deepened stasis in Zimbabwe; the contests of power in the nationalist movement, the maneuvering for positions in the guerilla camps and the competition to get hands on state revenue once the Leadership Code was flushed down the toilet. 

That in a word is what festers in the corridors of the party-state and by implication the national political economy is caught between these configurations. On one hand the political class has re-produced itself first through the coup and second through an election which some observers have ‘refused’ to declare as ‘free, fair and credible’. On the other hand, the national political economy stares them down in an eternal and very mortal dance. The discourse they shove down the nation’s empty stomachs conjures flames that will soon consume any façade to a ‘new dispensation’.

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