Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe critics unfollow president's Twitter en masse

BBC Monitoring

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Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Reuters
President Mnangagwa's Twitter followers were down from 565,000 to 546,000 by 4 July

About 20,000 people have reportedly unfollowed Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Twitter in protest against his government.

According to the private ZimLive website, opposition activists started a "peaceful resistance" campaign last week to unfollow the president, decrying a deepening economic crisis in the country.

According to the website, the president's Twitter followers were down from 565,000 to 546,000 by 4 July.

Mr Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba dismissed the move, saying the president was not concerned by "fake people" unfollowing him.

It comes as the opposition and civil society groups are mobilising for nationwide protests on 31 July to demand that President Mnangagwa step down. Security forces have previously clamped down on protests.

Zimbabwe first lady 'begs retailers to lower food prices'

Zimbabwean first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa
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Auxillia Mnangagwa is concerned about the rising cost of food

Zimbabwe's First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has asked manufacturers and retailers to lower prices of food and basic commodities, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.

Mrs Mnangagwa reportedly urged the traders to consider the plight of low-income earners.

"I implore all of us to continuously work on our pricing models so that they are reflective of the poor, whose right to food security remains paramount. Let us improve access to basic commodities to the marginalised, while ensuring that your businesses remain viable," she said at the the annual retailers and manufacturers awards.

The first lady said she was aware of the high cost of production in the country.

"I am aware of the challenges business is facing like foreign currency, load-shedding, fuel situation and high cost of rentals," she is quoted as saying.

Around a half of the country's population is facing hunger, with 7.7 million reported to be experiencing severe hunger.

The UN has already announced that it will provide food aid to 4.1 million of those facing hunger.

Zimbabwe was once a major food producer in southern Africa but is currently in the middle of a drought and inflation that have both adversely affected food production.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa government plans to scrap its plan to remove grain subsidies next year, a move it says will protect impoverished citizens from rising food prices, state media reported last month.

Pomp and ceremony for Mnangagwa's address

Shingai Nyoka

BBC Africa, Harare

Zimbabwen President Emmerson Mnangagwa (C) inspects a guard of honour outside the House of Parliament in Harare, Zimbabwe, 01 October 2019. Mnangagwa has officially opened the second session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe and addressed parliamentarians on the state of the nation.
EPA
Emmerson Mnangagwa became president after ousting Robert Mugabe in 2017

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived in parliament for his state of the nation address in a gleaming vintage Rolls Royce, accompanied by horses.

None of the pomp and ceremony could persuade the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to stay. The party does not recognise his presidency, accusing him of stealing last year’s vote.

In a 40-minute conciliatory speech, Mr Mnangagwa admitted the need to address concerns about the elections in order to deepen democracy.

While he highlighted the positives of the last year - a budget surplus, wage increases for civil servants and renewed diplomatic talks with the European Union - he ignored the elephant in the room, soaring inflation and rising discontent that threatens to destabilise the southern African nation.

See earlier post

Zimbabwe opposition boycotts presidential address

Zimbabwe's main opposition party walked out of parliament as President Emmerson Mnangagwa began his state of the nation address.

A spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the party does not recognise Mr Mnangagwa as a legitimate president, a news site has tweeted:

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In his address, Mr Mnangagwa urged all opposition parties to join a national dialogue which began after the disputed 2018 elections.

He also asked people to be patient as the government implements reforms aimed at addressing the country's economic challenges.

A severe cash and fuel shortage, high levels of inflation as well as power cuts are making life extremely difficult for Zimbabweans.

The MDC's attempts to organise protests against the government's handling of the economy have been repeatedly broken up by the police.

Mr Mnangagwa's victory in elections was marred by allegations of vote-rigging, and at least six people were killed at the time in clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters.

Mugabe granted national hero status

Emmerson Mnangagwa
EPA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa hailed Mr Mugabe as a "great teacher"

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was once Robert Mugabe's mentee before the pair became bitter political rivals, has given a statement in Harare.

"On behalf of our nation... I wish to express my deepest, heartfelt, condolences to the Mugabe family," he said.

"He has imparted to our nation a lasting lesson in devotion, love and care. We join here in grief, loss and bereavement.

"The Zanu-PF party has met and we have accorded him national hero status, which he richly deserves.

"We declare days of mourning until he is buried."