9 August 2014

Southern Africa: Mugabe Pleads for Smiles Ahead of SADC Summit

Photo: Kounosu/Wikipedia
Arrivals of Victoria Falls Airport (file photo).

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has pleaded with Zimbabweans to temporarily forget the country's economic difficulties and smile at delegates to the Sadc Heads of State summit the country will host later this month.

Mugabe told his Zanu PF party's central committee that Zimbabweans needed to show the region that they are a hospitable people and "forget our problems just for a moment".

"We know that our people are going through a very difficult period and that there are no jobs," he said

"However, we are asking you to smile and show the region that we are a hospitable people. That we can welcome visitors, let us all smile and for just a moment forget our problems.

"The people ... as a whole should not be found wanting in expressing their joy along places where they may be visited, so that we are not a morose, sorrowing and grieved people.

"At the end of the day, those who would have visited us must be able to say well they were met, that people were joyful, that people were friendly, that people were charitable and hospitable and who amongst themselves appeared to be united, all be it under the burden of sanctions."

Zimbabwe has been in throes of a debilitating economic crisis for the better part of the last 15 years and a temporary respite enjoyed under the coalition government before last year's elections has all but been forgotten.

Shortages of running water, food and power supplies as well as a liquidity crunch have left many nearly at the end of their tether.

Mugabe promised to create two million jobs in five years but, a year after being given a fresh mandate, the veteran leader seems at his wits' end.

However, as has become his wont, Mugabe maintained his party, "is working hard to get the economy up and running" through a blue-print the government admits lacks funding.

Accused of lacking an appreciating of the gravity of the country's problems, the 90 year-old may have got a sense of how dire the crisis is when his party failed to provide food for 3,000 youths attending a party conference in Harare.

Furious, Mugabe lambasted senior party officials, accusing them of neglecting their duties and concentrating on scheming for positions at the party's December congress.

He ordered the slaughter of 30 beasts from his personal herd to help feed the youths.

"I am informed that the delegates did not eat since arrival. Are we failing to provide even food for the delegates? What are we doing as members of the leadership?

"I am not happy," he raged, adding, "I cannot have a central committee or even a politburo which is inept. No!"

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