Panic-buying and fuel queues have resurfaced in Zimbabwe amid fears of a looming economic crisis, despite government's stern rejection of alarm and despondency.
For the first time in years, fuel queues resurfaced in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on Saturday, according to News24. Customers at some petrol stations were reportedly being limited to a maximum of US$30 of diesel if using credit cards, if they could not pay in hard cash.
Zimbabweans, meanwhile, shared pictures on social media of customers stocking up on basic commodities at shops as panic-buying mounts.
Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo on Sunday, however, dismissed claims Zimbabwe could experience hyperinflation similar to the "days of 2008" -- when the country suffered economic collapse -- as "propaganda".
Chilling image from Zimbabwe with 2018 elections on the horizon https://t.co/k0qqOPt9gb— Ashley Giles (@Ashley_Giles) September 25, 2017
He threatened "renegades and malcontents" for spreading alarm and despondency, saying press and social media were being monitored and would consider taking action against those spreading "propaganda".
"Government is closely monitoring the press and social media reports with a view of taking decisive action" oh dear pic.twitter.com/8wnPL7Waer— Nqaba Matshazi (@nqabamatshazi) September 24, 2017
The minister's warning followed the arrest on Sunday of outspoken leader of the #ThisFlag resistance effort, pastor Evan Mawarire, following a live Facebook broadcast during which he criticised government's handling of the economy. He was charged with subverting the government for the broadcast.
Pastor Evan charged with Subverting a constitutionally elected government for the second time. This is madness. I am angry very angry pic.twitter.com/EPvfXhu1BS— Linda T. Masarira (@lilomatic) September 24, 2017
Central bank chief John Mangudya, however, issued statements over the weekend attempting to placate Zimbabweans, claiming enough foreign currency was available for the importing of basic goods.
Statement released by RBZ after social media messages speculating over shortages. pic.twitter.com/iDe2A9cSx3— Zim Media Review (@ZimMediaReview) September 23, 2017
Many Zimbabweans have rebuked official statements, including former education minister David Coltart, who said: "This statement reveals just how delusional the ruining party has become -- they don't appear to notice the economic chaos all around them."
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Others expressed messages of dismay as well as criticism directed at the Mugabe family and senior politicians over lavish spending, particularly in recent weeks.
$5000000.00 US 😤2 Rolls Royce 😤flown into Zimbabwe where you can not withdraw $10 out of an ATM.— Vimbaishe Musvaburi (@VimbaisheM) September 20, 2017
Current state of affairs in Zimbabwe! pic.twitter.com/CZnHDVJYCH— Victoria Chimhutu (@vmushaba1) September 24, 2017
With this kleptocracy in charge of Zimbabwe, the country will end up being called Bwe. They would have stolen the first five letters too!— Alex T Magaisa (@Wamagaisa) September 21, 2017
Been watching Zimbabwe go off the rails over the last few months. Feel like a frog sitting in the proverbial warm water, it's getting hot!— Tino Hondo (@tinohondo) September 23, 2017