By Sij Ncube
HARARE, AUGUST 25 – -PRESIDENT ROBERT Mugabe is beret of measures to rescue Zimbabwe’s comatose economy, critics say, after he presented a non-convincing state of the nation address Tuesday in which he pinned the country’s economic revival on China.
Instead of indicating his departure from the helm of the nation, Mugabe baffled everyone by claiming the country was on the mend, citing investments from the Far East and the Zanu PF economic blue print – ZimAsset.
But critics maintain his so-called state of the national address was much ado about nothing, saying the Zanu PF leader showed he was clueless of taking the nation forward.
The opposition MDC-T set the balling rolling saying in the middle of a debilitating crisis that has brought the country to its knees, Mugabe dismally failed to rise to the occasion and presented an uncharacteristically terse speech that did not address the monumental challenges we face as a nation.
“So out of touch is the Head of State to the reality on the ground that he had the audacity, even in the middle of this national collapse, to proclaim with a straight face that the economy is registering “modest growth.”
This man must certainly be living in another planet! First, Mugabe gave the nation the usual rhetoric that his government is committed to job creation, promising that it will create jobs through value addition, beneficiation and infrastructure development, among other high-sounding initiatives which we have all heard before,” said MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu.
“He dismally failed to articulate the interventions his government will make to improve agricultural production and to deal with policies such as indigenization which, while appearing to be people-oriented, have not spurred the country towards food security, economic growth and prosperity.
The promises he made today are the same promises made two years ago when he promised us he would create two million jobs. Nothing has changed and the nation knows that once again today, Mugabe was taking them up the garden path by repeating the same promises which have not been delivered half-way into his term.”
The MDC T firmly believes Mugabe failed to pronounce himself on two key issues that Zimbabweans thought he would address: the disappearance of Itai Dzamara and the non-implementation of the national Constitution made and endorsed by Zimbabweans in their millions in a referendum.
“That Mugabe failed to pronounce himself on these issues means he does not consider them important. The disappearance of Dzamara, the issue of the security of the citizen, the commitment to the implementation of the Constitution and the respect of human rights are matters the nation expected Mugabe to address.
“Mugabe told the nation that Zim-Asset, the blueprint his government has bandied about as a panacea to the national crisis, requires huge capital injection but did not tell us where his government will get the billions of dollars needed to enable the high-sounding promises of his government to come to fruition. Mugabe ended his speech—-short on both content and substance–by shedding crocodile tears and pretending to commiserate with the 22 000 workers who have lost their jobs since the Supreme Court ruling of 17 July, 2015.”
The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute said Mugabe presented a state of nation devoid of any meaning and out of touch with the substantive issues and the question of the day, which millions of Zimbabweans are grappling with.
“The state of the nation was expected to address the livelihood problem that has been caused by his government’s failed economic policies and the refusal to embrace modern democratic governance practices,” the institute said in a statement.
The ZDI said a state of the nation was an opportunity to provide solid national leadership and the circumstances of the country and explain plans for the future.
“All these were glaringly missing in the state of the nation address. At the beginning of this address, President Mugabe presented a laundry list of issues which were supposed to form part of his address, namely, advancing beneficiation in mining and agriculture; development in the mining in energy sectors; supporting small-to-medium-enterprises (SMEs); the restoration and building of confidence in the financial sector; establishing joint ventures to boost performance of parastatals; modernizing labour laws; enhancing the anti-corruption thrust, and, the implementation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to provide impetus for inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI).
“However, no elucidation was offered on how these measures were going to be achieved and the monitoring framework thereof. This ten-point plan, which contains nothing new and premised on ZimAsset, will not enthuse the market and is bound to fail. Sadly, the 10-point economic revival plan underpins the critical canons of the government’s struggling ZIMASET economic policy,” it said.
Analysts are adamant Mugabe should have appraised the nation on measures aimed at addressing the ailing economy characterised by plunging capacity utilisation which currently stands at 36 percent; policy dissonance and inconsistencies in government; negative economic growth since 2013; increased levels of poverty and deprivation which has left most Zimbabweans living below the poverty datum line; company closures which have seen more than 6000 companies folding between 2011 and 2015; massive job losses of more than 77000 between 2011 and 2015; capital flight which has seen the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange losing more than $800 million in 2014 alone.
There is a general consensus Mugabe should have addressed issues pertaining to the implementation of the constitution with particular reference to clauses that have a bearing on addressing the political and socioeconomic challenges affecting the people of Zimbabwe.
“The state of nation was devoid of measures addressing the issues of human rights particularly the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara 168 days ago. He did not even respond to the petition handed to the Office of the President by the Dzamara family on Monday 24 August 2015. Such insensitivity does not bode well with a leadership that purports to respect human rights and other fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the bill of rights. It sends a wrong message not only to Zimbabwe but also to the broader international community on the commitment of the Zimbabwe government to uphold human rights and the rule of law,” ZDI added