AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - "The absence of war is not real peace. The country needs a real dialogue between the social and political partners"

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 economy   justice   peace  

Harare (Agenzia Fides) - Zimbabwe is experiencing a situation of "negative peace" says the Episcopal Commission for "Justice and Peace" of Zimbabwe, in its commentary on the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace: "No one can be saved alone. Combating Covid-19 together, embarking together the paths of peace".
Referring to sociologist Johan Galtung, "Justice and Peace" states that "the situation in Zimbabwe can best be described as 'negative peace' i.e. the absence of violence, wheras the desired is a 'positive peace which entails restoration of relationships, creation of social systems and resolution of conflict". "Our nation urgently needs a real dialogue between social and political parties", declares Justice and Peace.
Five years after the ousting of President Robert Mugabe (see Fides 24/11/2017), who ruled the country for 37 years, the situation in Zimbabwe has worsened, exacerbating the frustration of the population who hoped for a new era of democracy and economic prosperity. According to the country's national statistics agency, inflation has reached 268%, many times higher than when Mugabe was in power.
The percentage of citizens who have slipped into extreme poverty has almost doubled, from 30% in 2017 to 50% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Bank. Not only has the gap between rich and poor widened, but it is especially young people who are affected, to the point that we speak of a "lost generation" caught between unemployment, crime, access to drugs (with a lowering of the age at which people come into contact with drugs) and migration to other countries. There is also an increase in mental illness due to severe economic and social hardship.
Frequent power cuts, endemic corruption and high prices for basic commodities, medicines and medical care only aggravate the situation.
Despite the rocky start to the democratic process, the "individual" sanctions imposed by the US, UK and EU in response to human rights abuses, policies and actions that impede democracy, the rule of law and respect for human and property rights remain in place.
Although passed against individual members of government and institutions, the sanctions have a negative impact on the national economy as most companies in the United States, Canada and Europe prefer to avoid doing business with Zimbabwean companies due to the cumbersome process of verifying links between entities and sanctioned individuals or companies. As a result, many Zimbabwean companies have gone bankrupt or are operating at a sub-optimal level, unable to source goods and services from the European Union, Canada, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/1/2023)