Zhombe, April 1, 2014 – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says it is time to take the President Robert Mugabe-led government head-on through action which he did not specify.
Speaking at a rally in Zhombe on Saturday, the former prime minister in an uneasy coalition with Mugabe for more than four years said the country, whose economy is on a downward spiral, cannot be held captive by one man.
“We know that people are facing problems but Mugabe does not care,” said Tsvangirai as he pointed to company closures and subsequent employment losses.
“We will soon be mobilising Zimbabweans to take action. Zimbabweans cannot be held hostage by one man,” Tsvangirai said.
The MDC leader said, since Mugabe is the author of the current problems — that have worsened since last year’s general elections — he must be brought down to the negotiating table.
“We are now a basket case. Mugabe must be brought to the negotiating table, not by the MDC but rather by the masses of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s service delivery sectors are on a death-bed that could produce a crisis, with hospitals in the intensive care unit, water getting scarcer and thousands of children dropping out of school, and increasingly desperate citizens being caught up in the crossfire.
With social service delivery at an all-time low and unemployment rate sky-high, the situation, according to social commentators, may provoke a showdown between the State and it’s citizenry especially the restive civil servants, who are yet to get their promised salary increment.
Although Mugabe has on several occasions promised to review salaries of government workers — with civil servants expecting the rise this month — his government has failed to pay up and in the process stocking up anger among its servants.
Tsvangirai said present problems can only be solved through a holistic national dialogue.
“In the past 34 years, we have realised that liberation does not mean freedom. The current national crisis has fingerprints of Zanu PF and Mugabe,” said Tsvangirai.
The bloated, bankrupt State cannot sustain the social spending that kept the peace; the nation already faces water shortages, power outages, rising prostitution and rampant crime.
Analysts have warned that unless government implements reforms that will resuscitate the economy—the country is headed for a disaster.
Mugabe’s 26-member Cabinet has only hastened the country’s decline — for example, 10 women die daily while giving birth.
Official figures say 960 women die per 100 000 live births. Zimbabwe’s healthcare system was functional and could meet the needs of the country.
The situation is worsened by shocking reports of corruption with the public now demanding action from Mugabe.
The 90-year-old Mugabe is under increasing pressure to reshuffle his Cabinet which has dismally failed to deal with prevailing economic challenges.
Analysts say what is needed now is pressure on the government to change course and open negotiations with opposition leaders, something that has since been dismissed contemptuously by the ruling party.
And with the next scheduled elections four years away, Tsvangirai said there is need to reach a consensus beyond parochial party interests.
But the opposition leader, who is struggling to contain disunity in his own party appears to have little leverage and analysts say it is time for Zimbabwe’s neighbours to use their influence, before the chaos becomes uncontainable.