Food riots

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While Zimbabwe is an agricultural country, and has largely been a food exporter, some policies, combined with other events, have led to dire conditions that caused the population to protest by marching and demonstrating on the streets.

See History of Zimbabwe Timeline.


When bread prices doubled in 1993, followed by the removal of maize subsidies, consumers fought back with the first food riots in Zimbabwe since independence. In March, riots erupted when maize meal importation was disrupted and shortages were encountered. Armed riot police accompanied trucks distributing supplies of maize meal. In September bread riots broke out in Harare and Bulawayo.[1] Consumers then boycotted bread and maize. In one bakery, sales dropped overnight from 6000 dozen loaves to 200 dozen, when the price of a loaf of bread increased from Z$ 1.63 to Z$ 2.20. Similarly, when the wholesale price of maize was raised by 35 percent, consumers began buying their maize in the rural areas and grinding it in hammer mills, in the home industries centres and back gardens of high-density areas.[2] Later, rent demonstrations erupted in Zvishavane and other regional centres.[3]


In January 1998, food riots erupted throughout Chitungwiza and Harare's high density suburbs. The Zimbabwe Dollar's collapse, from Z$12:1US$, in November 1997, meant that economic conditions for all but the elite, became very poor. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) very successful 'stay away' in December 1997, provided an example of national protest against government policy. [4] [5] [6] [7]

Further Reading


  1. “Government under pressure to review economic reforms, Africa Information Afrique, Published: 20 October 1993
  2. [‘Consumers suffering without food subsidies’], Africa Information Afrique, Published: 18 August 1993
  3. [‘1993, Year of the Capitalist’], Horizon, Published: December 1993, p 21.
  4. [Never Gandanga. Violent Demos Rock Harare] "Mail and Guardian, Published 20 January 1998"
  5. [Pedzisai Ruhana. Riots bring hasty reverse on maize prices] "MISA, Published 20 January 1998"
  6. [Army deployed to quell food riots] "PANA, Published 20 January 1998"
  7. [Military spark panic in Zimbabwe's riot-torn capita] "SAPA-AFP, Published 21 January 1998"
  8. [Dorman, Sara Rich. Understanding Zimbabwe: From Liberation to Authoritarianism], Understanding Zimbabwe: From Liberation to Authoritarianism, (C. Hurst and Co, United Kingdom, 2016), Retrieved: 15 October 2019