By Sij Ncube
HARARE, December 14, 2015 – THE much-hyped Zanu PF 15th annual conference has come and gone but critics are adamant it was indeed much ado about nothing, pointing out President Robert Mugabe’s misleading report about an envisioned economic revival in 2016.
In his closing remarks, Mugabe shocked all and sundry when he stated that closed companies will re-open in 2016 amid economic revival.
“The economy is becoming better and next year, we expect things to be better. Some dead companies will become alive. The economy is on the steady road to recovery,” said Mugabe.
“I didn’t know that some of the companies especially in Bulawayo have survived the hard times. Cold Storage Commission is once again back on its feet. We want the CSC entities in Harare, Marondera and Masvingo to come back to life. We have to revive it and make it better than it used to be.
“I hear that Bata Company was now back on its feet and where it had lost just a handful of workers now has a thousand workers. We also hear that United Refineries in Bulawayo has now a 100 percent capacity.”
But critics say the report on “imagined” economic prospects clearly indicates Mugabe and Zanu PF are out of touch with reality. The critics insist the conference was an expensive jamboree at a time the government is technically broke.
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesperson, says as expected the Zanu PF conference achieved absolutely nothing besides providing an opportunity for Zanu PF activists to eat, drink, dance and gyrate.
Gutu charged that Cabinet ministers gave very false and misleading reports about an economy supposedly on the rebound.
“All sane and right -thinking Zimbabweans know that the economy continues to slide downhill and also that capacity utilisation in industry and commerce is around 17% ; which, by any standards, is an alarming statistic.
“Corruption is rampant in the public service and there’s no appetite, whatsoever, to ruthlessly clamp down on the toxic and cancerous vice called corruption. No concrete measures were adopted to effectively arrest the economic decline as well as to cushion the majority of the people against the ravaging effects of the impending drought,” he said.
Mugabe spoke a lot about corruption but critics are adamant he has all along failed to walk the talk.
Gutu added that most of the ministerial reports presented at the conference were nothing short of blue lies.
“This is shocking, really. We reiterate that for as long as the Zanu PF regime remains in power in Zimbabwe, the economy will continue to implode,” he said.
Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for the Democratic People’s Party, described the outcome of the Zanu PF conference as “an outcome that takes us nowhere.”
“The whole thing was an expensive do which drained the nation rather than help it come out of the comatose economy. It decided nothing except to lay bare the divisions in Zanu PF,” said Mafume, in reference to divisions that manifested themselves during the conference in Victoria Falls as factions within Mugabe’s party battle to succeed the veteran Zanu PF politician.
There were machinations to effect leadership changes at the conference but these were allegedly crashed by Mugabe who argued the gathering was not an elective conference.
As the warring factions sought to outmanoeuvre each other, shocking recommendations to have one of the two vice presidents be a woman was bandied about but again were crashed by Mugabe.
In a clear sign of sharp divisions, Zanu PF Gokwe-Nhembudziya legislator Major Wadyajena was arrested on Sunday after the conference for allegedly casting aspersions about Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
But Harare-based political analyst, Vivid Gwede, says the conference belies the thinking that Zanu-PF will renew itself from within any time soon.
“This year’s conference is just one of those annual conferences, where despite people’s wishes that sense will knock into the heads of the delegates on crucial issues, nothing came out of it,” Gwede.
“We want to hear how the ruling party will tackle corruption, unemployment and economic collapse, but little of that sort is being heard.”
Political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo believes Mugabe’s wife has come out of the conference more emboldened.
“What is clear is that the party is heavily divided and Grace and G40 emerged stronger from the conference. It is now clear who is sending Grace,” says Hlatywayo.