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Uncertainty rolls on in Zimbabwe, as rioters hit the streets and internet access is shut down

Internet access has been shut down and foreign currency is scarce

The hoped-for economic recovery has not materialised

Rioters took to the streets of Bulawayo and Harare this week as the economic situation in Zimbabwe continues to fester, despite earlier hopes that new President Emmerson Mnangagwa would be able to deliver much-needed reform.

The country is currently suffering from severe fuel shortages, in the wake of price hikes imposed by the President a couple of days ago.

President on four-nation tour

Private internet access has also been cut off across most parts of the country, as Mnangagwa’s regime seeks to stifle the potential power of the social media in coordinating a rising tide of protest.

In Harare, streets were blocked by burning tyres and angry youths, while most businesses shut down in response to a call from trades unions to protest the ongoing economic uncertainty.

Mnangagwa himself, however, appeared unconcerned, and left Zimbabwe for a four-nation tour, starting with a trip to Russia.

Inflation remains a significant problem in Zimbabwe, which has no currency of its own. What's more, there is an ongoing shortage of US dollars to oil the country’s economic wheels, partly because there isn’t enough export activity to bring the money in.

In addition, the issuance of so-called bond notes that are supposed to be pegged to the US dollar has led to a revival of the Zimbabwean currency black market, as the real value of the bonds is less than a third of the US dollars they’re supposed to be tied to.

Many government workers, including doctors, are paid in these bond notes and argue that they are not earning enough to live on.

However, some hopes still remain that Zimbabwe will turn an economic corner.

READ: Vast Resources asking for shareholder support to back debt funding plans

This week, Vast Resources asked shareholders to approve additional capital raising powers that would allow it to fund the development of a diamond mining operation in Zimbabwe. Vast hasn’t yet been granted a concession but wants to be able to move fast if it does get one.

The company is well-hedged against any uncertainty though, with operating mines in Romania providing the bulk of its cashflow.

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