Robert Mugabe may not have been too perturbed by the jeers that greeted his short state of the nation address on Tuesday; after all, they came from opposition lawmakers. But Zimbabwe’s veteran leader has other concerns: the economy has stalled, popular discontent is rising and more than a million people are likely to go hungry this year because of a poor maize harvest.
Analysts say Mugabe needs foreign investment and debt relief to jump-start growth, but the west remains wary of the often bellicose 91-year-old, while China – another important investor – is struggling with its own financial woes.
Zimbabweans are becoming increasingly fearful of a return to the dark days of hyperinflation that decimated incomes before 2009.
“I was there two days ago, and everyone is very much dreading a return to 2008, which was the era of meltdown and hyperinflation,” said Stephen Chan, professor of international relations at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies