8 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Turns Zim Into Economic Wasteland, Tsvangirai

Photo: Jeffrey Moyo/ IPS
A street vendor.

THE country's economy has been reduced to an informal wasteland with the Zanu PF government out of ideas on how to stem the slide while President Robert Mugabe remains closeted at his private Harare mansion, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has charged.

The former premier however offered little by way of solutions. He blamed the current problems on the "illegitimacy" arising from last year's "fraudulent" elections and suggesting a broad-based dialogue as the way forward.

In a statement Monday, Tsvangirai said "despair and desperation" had followed Mugabe's alleged landslide triumph in last year's elections. His MDC-T party maintains that Mugabe cheated his way to the purported victory.

"The nation has become one big mall, a huge 'Siyaso' market with everyone trying to sell something to someone just to make ends meet. I saw villagers struggling to buy basics for their families, huge families surviving on far much less than US$1 per day," said the MDC-T leader

"The question on everybody's mind is how so much pain, despair and desperation can immediately follow what our colleagues in Zanu PF would want to call a resounding victory that gave them an overwhelming mandate?"

Tsvangirai said gains registered when he worked with Mugabe and his Zanu PF party in the coalition government had since been reversed with the country fast sliding back to the economic mayhem of 2008.

"From where we had started since the formation of the inclusive government in early 2009 and where we had reached by 2013, notable progress had been recorded and hope for a brighter future sufficiently generated," he said.

"The desperate times of the crisis era of 2008 had become a distant memory and a new sense of hope had crept in the country by the time we entered held the last election. The past had become another country.

"(But) my heart is heavy today, as we accelerate towards the same economic turmoil from where we had rescued the people of Zimbabwe some five years ago!

"Closeted at State House, Mugabe remains marooned from the reality of the national situation, oblivious to the daily predicament facing Zimbabweans as they struggle to survive."

Eleven months after the July 2013 elections, precious little of the 2.3 million new jobs promised by Zanu PF have been realised with companies closing down, crippled by a biting liquidity crunch among other problems.

The government, unable to pay civil servants, admits the economy is not performing to its expectations while its ZimAsset blueprint - touted as a panacea to the country's problems - needs an immediate injection of $10 billion to get off the ground.

"The government simply has run out of ideas, even in the wake of shrinking revenue collections as a result of a diminishing base," said Tsvangirai.

"The policy uncertainty and inconsistencies on key programmes such indigenization and economic empowerment is not helping matters in bringing sanity and predictability, the two key factors for economic stability.

"The purported economic blueprint, ZimAsset, needs funding to the tune of $27 billion, and this at time when we have failed to fund an annual budget that needed around $4 billion.

"ZimAsset, supposedly the panacea to our economic success, has failed to attract any funding whatsoever.

"There is an acute lack of investor confidence and support by development partners, driven by the legitimacy crisis, as well as a ballooning debt which remains unserviced.

Tsvangirai said there was no way out of the current economic mire unless the legitimacy crisis arising from last year's elections was resolved.

"Without legitimacy, the country remains exposed to risk and uncertainty, two factors that determine investment and economic progress.

"Our grim economic plight as a people would have been surmountable had there been a credible election last year, even if it had meant a genuine and fair loss by the MDC-T."

The way forward, the MDC-T leader said, was a new national dialogue.

"There is an urgent imperative for a national conversation of more players than just political parties. The important aspect is that our dialogue must this time be broadened to include the trade unions, the church, students, industry and other stakeholders.

"The broad spectrum of stakeholders in that important dialogue must discuss, find consensus and map the way forward on the current economic crisis, the endemic poverty across the length and breadth of the nation and the massive unemployment in the country."

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