New Year, same old problems

HARARE - It is the same old tasteless wine in new bottles.

Like the rest of the world, Zimbabweans stood on the threshold of a brand new year, but unlike most, with a horrendous sense of forbiddance, too scared to peep into a sobering grim future.

After hopping from one crisis to another, clinging on to hope whenever backed against the wall, Zimbabweans will likely be haunted by the same old problems that have characterised the country for over a decade now.

A momentary and hiatus period brought by the inclusive government between 2009 and 2013 has now been swept away by the tide of time and the new harsh reality.

In its place, there is a government led by President Robert Mugabe, who on February 21 turns 90.

Mugabe, the man who has been in power for the past 33 years is currently holidaying in the Far East, far from the potholes of Zimbabwe and its dark towns replete with comatose industries.

The economy is on a free-fall and unemployment is unofficially at over 90 percent.

More industries are likely to close and with the “unfriendly” indigenisation regulations still in place, it is very unlikely that the landlocked nation will emerge from the self-induced crisis it finds itself in.

Water is now a luxury that many families even in the cities live without.

After a festive season, which could hardly be described as merry, Zimbabweans are now confronted with the same old problems, momentarily forgotten in December.

Parents now have to deal with the issue of school fees and some with money in their bank accounts face the spectre of finding the banks empty because of a liquidity crunch that the Zanu PF-led government is failing to grapple with.

Referring to Mugabe’s current annual holiday excursion, minister in the President’s office Didymus Mutasa’s statement that Mugabe’s presence or absence does not change a thing, is indeed shocking and regrettable — because we all have reason to believe that the 89-year-old should be in the saddle at such a juncture — directing policy and offering leadership as the quagmire so demands.

But that is at least expecting too much from a government that is hell bent on self aggrandizement and personal enrichment.

Zanu PF has been in power since 1980, and it is hopeless and fancy to expect anything meaningful from people who have reduced the country from being the jewel of Africa to the butt of political jokes the world over.

It is indeed laughable that 39 percent of Zimbabweans practice open defecation — this is according to Unicef — in this day and age.

With the new year comes new resolutions and aspirations and the ruling party has to steel itself to deliver to a lethargic population.

The revolutionary party is faced with the daunting task of, among a myriad of challenges, improving healthcare, maintaining the lively pulse left by ex-Education minister David Coltart, who opened schools, which had closed under Mugabe’s watch, and delivered textbooks to pupils.

Mugabe and his Cabinet have to improve maternal health delivery system in a in a country with just 7,2 nurses and midwives per 10 000 people and an annual maternal mortality rate of 960 deaths per 100 000 live births.

Condemned by many as being the reason behind the country’s economic woes that have resulted in a shrinkage of 85 percent between 2000 and 2008 and an industry contraction that has left Bulawayo, the second largest city ghostly, Zanu PF claims it is going to create a $2 trillion economy by 2018 — a high sounding nothing.

While suffering continues for ordinary Zimbabweans, for Zanu PF, which controversially won the July 31 elections held last year, there is little change, the ministers cruise in luxurious vehicles and holiday in exclusive holiday spots, far from the madding crowds and hungry millions who face starvation.

The economic haemorrhage that took root in the late 90s continues, but those who are supposed to superintend over the crisis are either holed in exquisite hotels or barbecuing at grabbed farms.

No doubt the president has to take a rest, but his absence should not stall progress, which it unfortunately does in Zimbabwe.

Optimists like Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa say the economy will grow by at least six percent this year, but the fall in prices of base metals globally, a poorly funded agriculture sector and company shutdowns paint a gloomy picture for 2014.

Comments (2)

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Real - 7 January 2014

Cde Mutasa's comment /statement is regrettable. To say the President's absence or presence does not make any difference is contempt of the worst kind. It implies the President is not effective or is not doing anything at all. He is just ceremonial or inconsequential. He did not realise the full meaning of his words in his misplaced zeal. Morally, it is wrong for the President to dine and wine on holiday thousands and thousands of miles away from Zim given the economic crisis we face. He should have come up with a better reply that that. I fell pity for the President.. If people have nothing to say, they should not say it loudly. People must learn to keep quiet at times.

cmatenda - 7 January 2014

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