Zimbabwe represents an economy in freefall and one of the worst examples of political repression in contemporary Africa.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks as if his control of events is nominal at best, while his deputy – the former army chief Constantin Chiwenga – wields the real power.

He controls the army which brought Mr Mnangagwa to power after the overthrow of Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

The first post-Mugabe election last July was followed by violence – much of it inflicted by the army – and the realisation that a change of leaders didn't mean a change to the system of patronage, corruption and state violence which has been the hallmark of Zanu-PF for many years.

Mr Mnangagwa was steeped in the repression of the past but was said to be more pragmatic than General Chiwenga, understanding that if foreign investment was to be attracted after Mr Mugabe the thuggish and venal politics of old would need to be transformed.

The president has called for a national dialogue and spoken of heads rolling if members of the security forces were found to have abused their power. It will take concrete action to make Zimbabweans believe he is sincere.

The country is hostage to a ruling elite that is bitterly divided and struggling – to put it mildly – to persuade the international community that the country is – in Mr Mnangagwa’s phrase: "open for business".