Which economy do you mean, Mr President?

HARARE - On Monday, Zimbabwe celebrated 36 years of independence with prospects for the country looking gloomy.

The euphoria that accompanied the attainment of independence was fairly predictable for a country that had gone through over a decade of fighting.

However, 36 years down the line, particularly in the last two years, hundreds of companies closed down throwing thousands of workers onto the streets.

Surprisingly, in his speech to mark the country’s 36th independence anniversary at the giant National Sports Stadium, President Robert Mugabe said the country’s economy is on the mend. Which economy were you talking about, Mr President?

Was it a way of cultivating hope in the population whose hope has already dwindled into oblivion?

State enterprises, notably Air Zimbabwe (Air Zim), the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco), the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Redcliff giant ZiscoSteel (Zisco) among many others, have continued to slide down the precipice. Recovery for most of these firms remains a mirage.

They are weighed down by debt, including millions owed to employees in unpaid salaries and wages. For the NRZ, workers have not been paid for the past 30+ months, the major reason why they camped at their employer’s premises recently.

Former employees of the GMB had to resort to picketing at the grain company’s head office in Harare in order to force management to settle their salary arrears.

Zisco has not done any better. The Essar deal — entered into between the government of Zimbabwe and an Indian investor — aimed at reviving operations at the company collapsed in controversial circumstances.

Many thought the deal was finally going to breathe life into the Midlands steel behemoth, but alas, the deal collapsed, extinguishing all the hope employees had of a lifeline.

The governing party’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) has failed to spur economic revival.

Successive policy flip-flops, especially involving the national empowerment law, the Indigenisation Act, have been equally disastrous.

Government has not been consistent in its projection of the policy with different ministers giving different perspectives of it.

Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao — who is Mugabe’s nephew — and his Finance counterpart Patrick Chinamasa have clashed over modalities of implementing the controversial policy with the latter largely engaged in a one-man battle to get Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts back on track.

We are still to see if Zimbabwe’s debt settlement plan, presented by Chinamasa in Lima, Peru, will be honoured. The plan was largely hoped to open the country to international financiers.

With Mugabe promising to review civil servants’ salaries, one wonders where that money is going to come from when government has been struggling to pay its own employees on time since Mugabe and Zanu PF got the mandate to run the affairs of State following the controversial July 2013 elections.

Admittedly, civil servants’ salaries and other conditions of service need urgent review but making populist announcements and then struggle to finance them is not the solution.

When the president himself announces that the economy is on the mend, one wonders which economy he is talking about. Obviously, he is heavily misinformed about the real state of the economy.

Hopefully, no one took Mugabe seriously. Besides, the bulk among his audience were youths who had come for some hours of free entertainment in the form of mass displays and the Uhuru Cup final match between Chicken Inn and Highlanders.

Save for the envoys who were there and a few level-headed citizens, the rest were Mugabe praise-singers who swallow whatever he says hook, line and sinker.

Comments (2)

Mugabe was drunk on tototo. Let him rest in his dreams!

Bona - 21 April 2016

Bona just gave birth in the far east. Kana economy yave nani seyi asina kuzvarira kwaKutama.The old man is getting sick in the head.

chatunga - 21 April 2016

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