A BRITISH think-tank has warned that Emmerson Mnangagwa’s continued hold on power faces significant challenges from the military and impoverished citizens unless his government acts to end the country’s worsening political and economic crises.The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) also says that the government will use security forces to repel the restive populace in the event of riots – further stoking political tensions in the country.

All this comes as Zimbabwe is bracing for mass protests on July 31, which have further stoked political temperatures in the country – resulting in raids by suspected State operatives on the homes of some government critics.

“The president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, faces growing threats to his authority stemming from ongoing economic and political crises, which are being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Several clashes have occurred between workers and security services as many people struggle to earn a living.

“Further unrest is likely as restrictions remain in place for most workers and the economic crisis continues.

“Mnangagwa came to office promising sweeping political and economic changes, raising public and international expectations,” the EIU said in its latest report on Zimbabwe.

It also said reform efforts by the government, since the dramatic fall from power of the late former president Robert Mugabe on November 2017 – via a widely-supported military coup – had been slow and piece-meal.

“Public sector strikes over poor working conditions and low real wages have been increasingly common in recent months.

“As the economy contracts further in 2020 and 2021, with extremely weak fundamentals exacerbated by the domestic and international economic effects of the pandemic, further strikes and protests are likely.

“The government is likely to continue to crack down heavily on protesters to maintain its grip on power,” the EIU further warned.

“The military plays a central role in domestic politics. If senior military figures perceive the president to be incapable of preventing economic collapse, they could move against him,” it added.

All this comes as political temperatures in the country continue to rise, with the opposition and pro-democracy groups mobilising citizens to join the mass protests slated for July 31.

Last week, the organisers of the demonstrations said there was no going back on the mass actions.

Turning to ongoing efforts to end Mnangagwa’s brawling with Nelson Chamisa, it blamed the 77-year-old Zanu-PF leader for spurning the chance to do so.

“The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has been pressing for dialogue between the two main parties to address the economic crisis.

“However, several MDC activists and members of Parliament have been arrested as the ruling party attempts to stifle opposition voices,” it said.

This comes as the church and several other groups have in recent weeks ramped up their efforts to convince Mnangagwa and Chamisa to end their long-running feud, which stems from the hotly-disputed 2018 polls, which were narrowly won by the Zanu-PF leader.

Source – Daily News