More lows than highs so far for Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa

16 January 2019 - 09:57 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has a tough road ahead.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has a tough road ahead.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Emmerson Mnangagwa has had a rocky ride after his historic rise to the presidency of Zimbabwe.  

Mnangagwa took over from Robert Mugabe in November 2017 after a coup that ended Mugabe's 38-year rule. In August last year, he was inaugurated as the third president of Zimbabwe after his electoral victory. 

Mnangagwa has received mixed reviews after his election. Here's a look at the controversies and victories that have plagued his tenure.

Planned stayaway

Mnangagwa announced over the weekend that there would be a massive fuel price hike that would see prices more than double. As the increases came into effect, Zimbabweans planned a three-day stayaway, with chaos erupting on the first day across the country.

Free state healthcare

According to Al Jazeera, in the first 100 days after his election, Mnangagwa introduced free state health care for the most vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly. There was also reportedly a temporary reduction in fuel prices. 

His stance on "weeding out corruption" among cabinet members was also welcomed by the public and many saw the moves as a positive sign.

Job losses

In December 2018 scores of employees from Sakunda Logistics, a company that controls the majority of fuel procurement in Zimbabwe, were left jobless after the company said it had suffered irrecoverable losses four years prior to the final closing.

After this closure, only two Sakunda divisions remained operational, Sakunda Energy and Sakunda Trading.

It wasn't the only company that saw job losses. National Foods announced that they too would close their wheat mill operations in Bulawayo and Harare. The announcement was made in December 2018 and the company said the decision was made because of delays in repatriating payments to their foreign wheat suppliers.

Doctors suspended

Just before Christmas, the government suspended 550 doctors, most of whom were junior. This came after medical staff demanded a 60% salary increase. 

Many senior doctors did not report to work in support of their colleagues who were suspended. Doctors were blocked from entering hospitals, with the move making headlines as concerns grew about the state of health care in the country.

Attempts to rescue ailing economy

For Mnangagwa, the start to a new year meant finding ways to attract potential investors. To achieve this, he jetted off to five countries, including Russia, Switzerland and Azerbaijan.

His spokesperson said the idea behind the trips was to solidify Zimbabwe's place globally and attract investors who would help stimulate the country's economy. 

On social media, Mnangagwa has remained mum since his announcement on the fuel price increase. In the weeks leading up to that decision, he said he was committed to reforming the country's economy, urging citizens to play their part.