SW Radio Africa (London)

9 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Is 'Economically Illiterate'

Photo: Antony Kaminju/IRIN
A woman sells vegetables at a food market in Harare

Harare-based policy analyst Charles Mangongera has said President Mugabe is an 'economically illiterate' leader with no clue as to how a modern economy should be run and so he would rather spend his time outside the country.

Mangongera, who is a former policy director in the MDC-T, said this after Mugabe attended Malawi's 50th independence anniversary last week where he was the only head of state. Mugabe has previously attended many such peripheral events where he would be the only elderly statesman and he is also routinely out of the country seeking medical attention in Singapore.

Every festive season Mugabe also takes his one month long vacation during which he flies to the Asian country. In the early 2000s he often travelled to Malaysia. In 2009 and this year he delayed his return to public view leading to rumors that he was seriously ill and unable to resume his duties.

Speaking on SW Radio Africa's Cutting Edge programme, Charles Mangongera said Mugabe's continued absence from office shows that there is a leadership crisis in the country. Mangongera says elsewhere in the world heads of state don't travel when their countries are in crises and Mugabe had better do likewise and tackle the 'monumental' economic crisis which his leadership has created.

He said: 'His is just a question of dereliction of duty and also a realization that this is an insurmountable task on his part. I don't think he has the competence or the literacy to understand how this economy should run.'

He added: 'I have always viewed this government and particularly Mugabe as someone who is economically illiterate. You don't get the sense that in their debates and in their public policy posturing that they really understand what it means to be public functionaries.'

Mangongera rubbished the view that Mugabe is absenting himself as a way to allow vice President Joice Mujuru to gain enough experience before she takes over. He said: 'The fact that he has continued to play the different ZANU PF factions against each other shows that he is not interested in elevating anyone. So I don't think he is giving her the sufficient apprenticeship to take over from him at any rate.'

He added: 'We know that when Mugabe is away certain decisions are suspended. We have seen this even when he is on holiday. When Mujuru acts she is just ceremonial with no power to make decisions.'

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