Fix economy first

HARARE - An astonishing level of outrage has been ignited by President Robert Mugabe’s plea to Zimbabweans to temporarily forget the mounting economic difficulties and smile to delegates at the Sadc heads of State and government summit in Victoria Falls later this week.

The summit, that will see Mugabe become Sadc chairman, has been staked out as reason to forget our mounting economic problems. The government-induced economic crisis must be put
on the back burner so that we present a rosy picture to the visiting delegates!

When the government out-rightly denies that there is a crisis, the people must voice their disapproval. Zimbabwe has become a repository for government’s failed policies.

Economists are clanging alarm bells over a deepening liquidity crunch.

Similar sentiments have been echoed by other sectors of the economy across Zimbabwe. Yet the president does not want us to broadcast our dissatisfaction with his government’s lackadaisical approach to the economy to his Sadc peers.

While what is happening in Zimbabwe is a crisis, it’s one that is primarily humanitarian in scope, in our view.

The country is embroiled in chaos, crime, poverty and prostitution.

While Mugabe has been in denial about the economic crisis, for the sake of the Sadc summit, he finally admitted that the people are facing “challenges”.

Mugabe told his Zanu PF party’s Central Committee last week: “We know that our people are going through a very difficult period and that there are no jobs.

“However, we are asking you to smile and show the region that we are a hospitable people, that we can welcome visitors, let us all smile and for just a moment, forget our problems.”

So, the debate over the economy, and whose policies led to this, should wait until the Sadc summit is over?

It is not enough — and coldly inhumane — to say we should simply park our economic problems and go home until the summit is over. That course is fraught with dishonesty.

We understand the attempt by Mugabe to paint a rosy picture about the state of affairs here. The increase in economic problems is in small part the result of a muddied message sent to our regional peers about how Zimbabwe has bottomed out of its economic problems when things are getting worse.

This anger at the deepening economic problems must be presented to Sadc. The people are living in squalor. We have a very real, very present crisis, and while it may only now have risen to the level that we are paying attention to it, this problem has been brewing and growing for years.

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