Trust – Zimbabwe’s elusive currency

IJR’s Dr Webster Zambara in Zimbabwe

A recent working visit to Zimbabwe by IJR’s Dr Webster Zambara brought him to the stark reality on the prevailing situation on the ground – a deepening trust deficit. In a country that is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade, and where most of the basic commodities are either in short supply or beyond the reach of the majority as prices skyrocket on a daily basis, people are in fear of the known: an economic implosion akin to the one experienced in 2008 that had serious political and social ramifications. As a result, people now live in heightened anxiety as their livelihoods are threatened by a combination of natural and man-made calamities. Many are losing trust in the leadership, institutions and systems that make society functional. No one has trust in the recently reintroduced Zimbabwean currency in a hyper-inflationary environment, including the very government that introduced it!

However, all is not lost. On the 5th and 6th of March, Zambara attended the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission’s (NPRC’s) capacity building workshop for the Mashonaland Central Provincial Peace Committee where IJR provided accompaniment and technical support. Since 2016, the Institute, through a framework created by the UNDP Zimbabwe, has worked to build the capacity of the NPRC to fulfil its constitutional mandate, and the creation and capacitation of Provincial Committees is one of the outcomes of the process. The Commission will soon establish Peace Committees in all Districts across Zimbabwe as it builds a national architecture to facilitate and spearhead peace and reconciliation processes, and the IJR will continue to provide expertise.

Besides holding several meetings with key civil society partners and academia, Zambara also held a high profile meeting with H.E. Barbara van Hellemond, the Netherlands Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to share IJR’s perspectives on political and social developments in Southern Africa.

The recent visit invoked Professor Johan Galtung’s wise words: “In a democracy, people tend to believe what their leaders say, even if it may be wrong, while in a dictatorship, people tend to doubt what their leaders say even if it may actually be correct”. The trust deficit witnessed in Zimbabwe is so deep that, even when authorities assured the nation that the COVID-19 virus had not been confirmed anywhere in the country, many people doubted this. It is as if they wished that the dreaded pandemic had arrived in the face of a dilapidated and largely dysfunctional health delivery system, among a plethora of other vulnerabilities.