Zimbabwe businesses feeling 'quiet euphoria' over military takeover

Shafi Musaddique
Many of Zimbabwe's young population move to South Africa and Botswana for employment opportunities: Reuters

Zimbabwe’s businesses may be feeling “relief” and “quiet euphoria” at the military takeover from Robert Mugabe, a leading expert in global risk management has said.

Dr Charles Laurie, head of the Africa division at international firm Verisk Maplecroft, said the army’s intervention had created “quite a lot of light at the end of the tunnel” for businesses who have suffered restrictions for decades under Robert Mugabe’s rule.

“If you speak to people in Zimbabwe today, people would be breathing a sigh of relief”, Dr Laurie told the BBC.

“The key point is the number one obstacle for business recovery in Zimbabwe is Mugabe stepping down or being removed from power - this has been the obstacle for 10 years. Now that first step has been achieved, it opens up a number of questions of who will come after Mugabe”.

Zimbabwe’s businesses have remained in a “paralytic state” for over a decade with the economy “in a state of pause”, said Dr Laurie, author of a book exploring Zimbabwe’s historic land seizures.

“It’s [the economy] suffered a number of key interventions by the Zimbabwe Government that are highly politically motivated and what you’ve ended up with now is a country that has…a currency that’s not trusted”.

The African nation has suffered a turbulent economic history, with inflation currently at 90 sextillion (21 zeros) per cent, rendering the local Zimbabwe currency worthless.

Zimbabwe has 9 currencies in circulation, with the US dollar currently the key currency. However, not many of those circulate across the whole country so many people have turned to using Zimbabwe’s bond note despite it being not well trusted.

Robert Mugabe’s seizure of farms in 2000 triggered hyperinflation of 55 per cent. By 2008-09, inflation reached 89 sextillion per cent.

The brittle economy has hit young Zimbabweans hardest, with the country suffering 90 per cent unemployment and potentially as high as 94 per cent.

An estimated 24 per cent of Zimbabweans live outside the country and are seeking jobs in neighbouring South Africa and Botswana, Dr Laurie said.

“It’s not for a lack of interest of love for their country; it’s just simply the lack of jobs”.