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Majority of Zimbabweans Say Government Mismanagement Not Sanctions Main Cause of Country’s Economic Problems

FILE: A man wearing a mask is seen near a food queue in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 25, 2020.
FILE: A man wearing a mask is seen near a food queue in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 25, 2020.

Recent Afrobarometer survey findings show that a huge majority of Zimbabweans say that government mismanagement, not sanctions, is the main cause of the country’s economic woes.

In a survey involving 1,200 adult citizens conducted by an Afrobarometer team led by the Mass Public Opinion Institution, key findings are that two-thirds (65%) of citizens say the main cause of the county’s economic woes is government mismanagement.

According to Afrobarometer, only three in 10 (29%) see Western sanctions as the main problem. The view that government mismanagement is to blame for economic problems is especially widespread among urban residents (82%) and citizens with postsecondary education (89%). Management of the economy is citizens’ fourth-highest priority for government action, joined in the top 10 by unemployment and the cash crisis.

More than seven in 10 Zimbabweans (72%) describe the country’s economic condition as “fairly bad” or “very bad,” and 62% say the same about their personal living conditions. Only about one-third (35%) of citizens think economic conditions will improve over the next year. Large majorities say the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” on managing the economy (69%), keeping prices stable (78%), and creating jobs (91%).

“Citizens are more likely to blame the country’s economic troubles on government mismanagement, rather than Western sanctions, if they see the country’s economic condition or their personal living conditions as bad, if they expect things to get worse rather than better, and if they think the president and members of Parliament are doing a poor job,” reads part of the report posted on the Afrobarometer website.

Afrobarometer says as might be expected, respondents who “feel close to” the opposition MDC-Chamisa party overwhelmingly (92%) attribute economic problems to government mismanagement, a view shared by just 36% of ZANU-PF supporters.

In line with these findings, Harare residents (84%) are most likely to cite mismanagement as the main cause of economic woes, while Mashonaland Central is the only province where fewer than half (47%) of residents agree.

For more than a decade, Zimbabwe’s economy has been characterized by run-away inflation and a continually devaluing currency.

In a report released a few days ago, Alena Douhan, a United Nations special envoy to Zimbabwe, said targeted sanctions imposed on some ruling party officials should be repealed as they are crippling the country’s economy.

Zanu PF has made similar claims in the past, urging the West to remove the sanctions.

But critics say the sanctions should remain as the ruling party has not made any meaningful electoral and political reforms warranting the removal of the sanctions.