Helen Kadirire 19 April 2017
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday skirted addressing the
shortages of cash and policy inconsistencies within his government when he
delivered a dour independence speech to spark fierce criticism from
opposition parties who say he is now acting like “a lost soul”.
Addressing thousands of long-suffering Zimbabweans at the giant National
Sports Stadium, Mugabe dwelt on improved electricity supplies and housing
delivery which he said had been met under the much-touted by failed
government-backed economic blueprint -ZimAsset.
“We all should be pleased that since January 2016, the country achieved a
15-month period without load-shedding. To further increase and stabilise
electricity generation, several other projects are being pursued in the
short to medium term.
“In pursuit of providing decent housing for all, government has fully
serviced 52 000 stands and also completed housing units thereby surpassing
the ZimAsset target of delivering 25 000 stands or completed housing
units,” Mugabe said.
This year’s independence celebrations were held under the theme: creating
the ease of doing business, but curiously, Mugabe did not address
corporate governance issues, corruption and policy inconsistencies
especially on the indigenisation law, all which are blamed for keeping
away international investors from Zimbabwe.
Mugabe also spoke as Zimbabwe is currently deep in the throes of a
ginormous economic crisis which has seen tens of thousands of desperate
ordinary citizens besieging banks on a daily basis seeking to withdraw
The shortages of cash have since forced the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
to set the maximum limit for cash-back facilities by retailers and
wholesalers at $20, as authorities desperately try to mitigate the
At the same time, economists have told the Daily News that poverty levels
in the country are skyrocketing, with average incomes now at their lowest
levels in more than 60 years – and with more than 76 percent of the
country’s families now having to make do with pitiful incomes that are
well below the poverty datum line of more than $500.
Mugabe’s uninspiring speech drew criticism from opposition parties who
said the nonagenarian was now out of touch with issues affecting the
Former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said Mugabe had nothing more
to tell suffering masses as he should have retired long ago.
“This is typical of Mugabe. He is never really focused on pertinent issues
that affect the majority of the people of Zimbabwe. He knows that there is
a grinding cash shortage in the country but his Independence Day speech
was conveniently silent on such a topical issue.
“The old man is completely clueless, he is out of sorts. He is living in
yesterday’s world. Zimbabwe is in trouble as long as Mugabe remains in
charge as president. We need a brand new government that is
people-centred, resolute, focused and competent,’ said MDC spokesperson
“We need to stop as a nation pretending that a 93-year-old is running this
nation. We have surrendered our independence to fear and oppression. He
(Mugabe) clearly does not understand that the nation is bigger than the
efficiency of his motorcade,” weighed in opposition People’s Democratic
Party (PDP), spokesperson, Jacob Mafume.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said Mugabe’s failure to address critical
issues was indicative of the rot his Zanu PF government had caused.
“This is adequate evidence to explain his lack of capacity to arrest the
Zanu PF-created crisis. The Zanu PF leader has lost control of his party
and the country. We have a person who is detached from reality and
surrounded by architects of his political demise.
“Robert Mugabe must step down. The evasion of critical issues points to
dismal failure and loss of control.
“The man is now an executive prisoner being used by his colleagues as a
political shield. This has endorsed our uncontrollable crisis created by
the party in turmoil,” said MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi.