Is there there hope for Zimbabwe when those in leadership are in denial, asks Malcom Sharara after President Robert Mugabe denied that his country is a fragile state.
Harare – Is there hope for Zimbabwe when those in leadership are in denial?
This is a question most Zimbabweans and others across the globe were left asking themselves after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe denied that his country is a fragile state.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa on Thursday morning, Mugabe said his country is not a poor country and it can’t be a fragile country.
“Zimbabwe is one of the most highly developed countries in Africa and, after South Africa, I want to know which country has that level of development that we see in Zimbabwe,” said Mugabe.
He went on to say that Zimbabwe is one of the most well-resourced countries on the continent and also boosts 14 universities as well as a literacy rate of over 90%.
“We are not a poor country and we can’t be a fragile country.”
But was he right in denying that Zimbabwe ranks among Africa’s as well as the world’s fragile states?
According to Wikipedia, a fragile state is a low-income country characterised by weak state capacity and/or weak state legitimacy, leaving citizens vulnerable to a range of shocks.
To some extent Zimbabwe fits into that description, as the latest World Economic Forum report, The Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2017, ranks it among other low-income countries.
Natural resources – boon or drawback?
Fragile states are also said to suffer from a natural resource curse, and this is something Mugabe boasted about.
“We have resources, perhaps more resources than (any) other country in the world,” he said. “We are not a poor country. We can’t be a fragile country. We’ve got these resources.”
Ironically, his admission that Zimbabwe has resources in abundance fits into the “resource curse” description which says that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than those with fewer natural resources.
Fragile states cannot provide most basic services to their citizens and Zimbabweans have seen this at their hospitals, which at times fail to provide health services with the president and the elite flying to foreign countries to get treatment.
The president boasted that Zimbabwe is the most developed country in Africa after South Africa, but for most Zimbabweans this is hard to believe.
“The country does not have a functional rail system, its roads are dilapidated, it imports the bulk of its electricity and has not seen a construction crane going up in more than 20 years,” said Walter Mandeya, a Harare resident.
Obert Gutu, spokesperson of the main opposition party MDC-T, took to Twitter, saying “Mugabe is living in his own world of make believe. He shouldn’t be taken seriously.”