Zimbabwe's poor pay price for austerity policies

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Craig Dube

2018-19 Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has had to cut his holiday vacation short to try to resolve an escalating strike among doctors at public hospitals over low pay and medical supply shortages. Now entering its second month, the strike comes as the government pursues a short-sighted effort to improve its reputation among international creditors by slashing public spending.

After 37 years of former President Robert Mugabe’s iron fist rule, Zimbabwe’s government is now rolling out the welcome mat for foreign investors — particularly for China. While President Trump has his “Make America Great Again” slogan, Mnangagwa, who became president of this southern African country in 2017, is using the theme “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

What that means in policy terms is severe austerity measures that hit the poor hardest in a country already reeling from skyrocketing poverty and unemployment. And if the experiences of other countries are any guide, this approach will reduce, rather than increase the country’s ability to repay foreign debts or resolve its current financial crisis.

Read Craig Dube’s blog on Inequality.org.

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Craig Dube is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity. He previously worked in Zimbabwe as a regional field officer for Champions For Life, an HIV psychosocial support program. @KwaDube365

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme, the International Inequalities Institute, or the London School of Economics and Political Science.