7 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Must Get Off Stage

Photo: Zimbabwe Independent
Supporters of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.


President Robert Mugabe, increasingly sounding like a broken record due to his droning rhetoric, will today strut the podium of the controversial U.S.$6,5 million Zanu PF convention centre in Gweru like a colossus when opening his party's annual conference.

Predictably, Mugabe, buoyed by his endorsement as the party's presidential election candidate in the run-up to the conference, would be strutting his stuff: stale rhetoric on the history of the liberation struggle and his supposed heroics during the time; railing against internal and external enemies, real and imagined; attacking imperialists and sanctions; going on about land reform and indigenisation and also elections, among other things.

Given that this conference comes ahead of crucial general elections next year, Mugabe might also try to scratch around for evidence of achievement during his barren 32-year rule in a bid to mask his egregious failures. The most familiar claims of success he usually makes revolve around social services, particularly education.

Now the indigenisation campaign - a coded reference to company seizures - is his new trump card after the disastrous land grabs.

Zanu PF is going for broke in the next elections coming up with all sorts of campaign strategies and tactics, including community share trusts, input schemes, residential stands distribution, community projects and deployment of security forces. Although Zanu PF is officially broke, according to its previous conferences' central committee reports and botched fund-raising bids before the current conference, it has been splashing money on dubious initiatives whose source is not known.

It is widely thought Marange diamond fields, a hotbed of looting and corruption, are the source of the funds. It has already bought new cars and campaign materials, showing how desperate it is to win the next polls.

However, whatever Mugabe says today in Gweru and his party does leading to the elections, it will not change facts on the ground: that they have failed and are now unelectable. Even if they win by hook or by crook, their record will not change. It will remain long after they are gone that they destroyed this country through appalling economic mismanagement, corruption and brutal repression.

Evidence of Mugabe misrule is everywhere around us: a struggling economy, ruined agriculture sector which was the mainstay of the economy, food insecurity and hunger, and poor social service delivery, particularly the shortages of water, electricity, crumbling education and health facilities, and collapsed infrastructure, including roads, dams and bridges.

As we carry in a story somewhere in this edition of our paper, experts say Harare residents are now drinking "filtered urine" as water. If this is not evidence of failure, then what is?

Besides, whole cities, Bulawayo being the main example, are dying under his watch. Leaving alone the breakdown of state enterprises as but one example of national failure, the collapse of Zanu PF's own companies shows beyond reasonable doubt that Mugabe and his cronies can't run anything.

Given all this, Mugabe must get off stage for his own sake and that of the nation.

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