Zimbabwe’s Riots, Fuel Tax Rises And Internet Shutdown

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Zimbabwe seems to have jumped from the frying pan to the fire here with that change from Robert Mugabe over to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. For the President announced a rise in fuel prices – effectively a tax of course – to some of the most expensive in the world. $12 a gallon is about right, without even bothering to account for the very much lower incomes in that country Mugabe so impoverished. This, not unrealistically, set off riots the result of which are that the government has decided to close down the internet.

Presumably people will stop complaining if there’s no electronic means of complaining. Although, as history shows us, people will go on complaining in rather more physical forms if they’ve got enough dander up.

It does indeed appear that the intertubes have been closed down:

The reason being this:

Over the weekend, president Emmerson Mnangagwa announced in a televised address that Zimbabwe’s fuel prices would double: from $1.24 to $3.31 per liter for petrol and from $1.36 to $3.11 for diesel.

Large and poor country decides to have some of the most expensive fuel prices in the world. This is perhaps not a wise decision. The reason given though floats it over to the insanity side of decision making:

President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who is trying to revive Zimbabwe’s struggling economy – said the fuel price rise was aimed at tackling shortages caused by an increase in fuel use and “rampant” illegal trading. Protesters accuse the president of not understanding their situation.

A better complaint would be that the President doesn’t understand reality.

So, imagine, there’s illegal trading. Other people call this having an economy but still. I assume that the complaint is over illegal trading in fuel, given those shortages. So, raising the official price of petrol is going to increase or reduce the amount of illegal trading in non-government priced fuel?

Quite, this is insane.

But then in a country where most grew up learning their economics from Robert Mugabe’s misunderstandings of the subject what else do we expect?