How Zimbabwe became world's most expensive place to fuel a car

A protesters burns tyres on a road during a "stay-away" demonstration against the doubling of fuel prices on January 14, 2019 in Emakhandeni township, Bulawayo.

(CNN)In the Fall of 2017, Zimbabweans took to the streets in mass protests against a regime that was presiding over a broken economy and collapsing living standards.

Those protests would turn to celebrations when President Robert Mugabe finally stepped down after 37 years in power.
Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was elected the following August on a promise to stabilize the economy and allow for greater democratic freedom.
    But the honeymoon has swiftly soured. The new administration is already facing major unrest with strikes and protests bringing Zimbabwe's two largest cities, Harare and Bulawayo, to a standstill.
      Schools and government buildings were shuttered Monday, with streets standing empty, and sporadic violence being reported.
      Of course, the fall of Mugabe was not a panacea for one of the most famously unstable economies in the world, in which many citizens continue to face debilitating hardships. Almost a quarter of the population live in extreme poverty, according to the UN, and the cost of commodities are rising while salaries stagnate.
      This wave of protests has served to emphasize the size of the task facing the new president.

        The spark

        The proximal cause for the unrest is Mnangagwa's announcement of massive fuel price hikes, with petrol rising from $1.24 to $3.31 a liter and diesel rising from $1.36 to $3.11 - making Zimbabwe the most expensive country in the world to fill a car.
        The price hikes will also impact the price of many other commodities dependent on fuel, although Mnangagwa's announcement did also include measures to "cushion" government workers against rising costs of living.
        The president's announcement was the spur for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to launch a three-day "stay away" that effectively paralyzed many of the country's public services.
        Transport and banking sectors have been among the worst-affected areas, with many teachers already on strike.
        But the fuel crisis is just a symptom of a deeper malaise affecting the country.
        As political analyst Derek Matyszak of the Institute for Security Studies puts it: "This unrest was a slow train that has been coming for some time...and the fuel price hike was the straw that broke the camel's back."

        Currency crisis

        The government's move to increase fuel prices represents part of a broader attempt to address a currency crisis that stems from 2009, and the decision to take the Zimbabwe dollar out of circulation after a period of disastrous hyperinflation that created a population of impoverished billionaires.
        The US dollar became the primary currency, but a shortage of dollars led to the Mugabe government introducing a parallel system of 'bond notes' and electronic payments that are notionally equivalent to the dollar.
        But in practice, the parallel currencies lost value against the dollar and currently trade at less than a third of the dollar's value on the black market.
        Follow CNN Africa on social media

        See more stories on Marketplace Africa and share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

        The devaluation of these currencies used to pay government salaries significantly increased the price of imports leading to rampant inflation and rocketing prices for consumer goods.
        In November, inflation rates reached their highest level since 2009. The Economist recently reported that packs of nappies were selling for $49 in Harare.
        However, fuel prices are set by the government, which has maintained the official exchange rate so that consumers were paying less than a third of its dollar value.