HARARE - Zimbabwe is teetering on the brink of total collapse as the economy continues to nosedive precipitously and President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly clueless government fails to align the country’s laws with the Constitution — leading it to resort to abductions and thuggish power retention methods, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said.
In a strongly-worded letter to South African President Jacob Zuma, who is also chairman of Sadc’s organ on politics, defence and security, Tsvangirai highlighted the wilting democratic space in Zimbabwe, warning that unless the regional body intervened, the country would soon be consumed by chaos and anarchy.
“Your Excellency, the situation in Zimbabwe is getting out of hand and civil strife is imminent. Zimbabweans are once again being subjected to suppression by the government. We call upon the region and the continent not to sit idly by and watch Zimbabwe slide back into chaos,” Tsvangirai warned.
Disaster looming, says Tsvangirai
The letter which was copied to all the other Sadc heads of state, African Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki Moon and the European Union head of delegation in Zimbabwe Phillipe Van Damme, said the resistance by Mugabe to democratic reforms pointed to worse things to come.
“The Zimbabwean economy continues to decline due to the ruinous policies adopted by the government. Massive corruption involving State officials remains an albatross around Zimbabwe’s neck,” reads part of the letter written to Zuma, and a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily News.
“It is my hope that timely intervention by your excellences will avert the potential disaster brewing in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Tsvangirai wrote his letter as Mugabe continues to globe-trot at huge expense to the fiscus, and at a time that unrest and a morbid spirit of lawlessness has gripped frustrated Zimbabweans.
Recent riots at Harare’s Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and at the University of Zimbabwe are among some of the growing signs of citizens being fed up with the state of affairs in the country.
Although the government has dismissed the warning from analysts and opposition parties that the country is like a tinderbox ready to explode, the State is increasingly resorting to heavy-handed methods to maintain order, using riot police even where this has not appeared necessary.
Apart from having to find urgent solutions to deal with the restive population, Zanu PF is also struggling to deal with an internal revolt by senior party officials that has seen the brutal removal of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and all her perceived allies from office.
“The ruling Zanu PF has abandoned the duty to redress the economic situation of Zimbabwe because of its pre-occupation with the internal political strife in the (ruling) party,” Tsvangirai added in his letter.
He further contended that Zimbabwe’s calamitous economic collapse did not bode well for peace and security in the country — where more than 90 percent of the people are now unemployed and many more are faced with hunger due to gross corruption and misrule by Zanu PF.
Despite making myriad promises during the disputed 2013 elections, the ruling party has failed to provide the two million jobs it said it would create in its economic blueprint ZimAsset, and the country’s public health sector is now in intensive care — with Mugabe and his wife preferring to be treated overseas rather than locally.
And according to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, at least 4 160 companies have closed since 2011, sending more than 55 400 employees into instant destitution.
Economists also say that average incomes in Zimbabwe are now at their lowest levels in 60 years, with a recent survey commissioned by FinMark and ZimStats last month revealing that more than 76 percent of the country’s adult population has to make do with less than $200 a month.
Pointing out the deficiencies in governance in Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said Mugabe was failing dismally to implement the new Constitution which had been overwhelmingly endorsed by the majority of Zimbabweans in 2013.
“The Zimbabwe Constitution provides for a very comprehensive Bill of Rights. Nothing has been done to enable the people of Zimbabwe to enjoy these rights,” he said.
Tsvangirai said failure to implement the Constitution meant that Zimbabweans were living under the “yoke of oppressive legislation that is now unconstitutional”.
He said Mugabe’s recent chilling warning to judges who will preside over the court case involving former Cabinet ministers Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa was yet another indicator of the “absence of the respect for the rule of law in the country”.
“President Mugabe must openly and unconditionally withdraw his threats to the judiciary. There is nothing, Your Excellency, that suggests that these threats are idle,” Tsvangirai wrote to Zuma and the other Sadc leaders.
Tsvangirai also warned that following the recent disappearance of pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, the 2008 days of “murder and forced disappearances of those opposed to Zanu PF” were back.
Dzamara has been missing for a full three weeks now after he was abducted near his home by suspected State security agents.