via Mugabe delivers hopeless State-of-the-Nation address – DailyNews Live 26 August 2015
HARARE – Long-suffering Zimbabweans yesterday united in criticising President Robert Mugabe’s State-of-the-Nation Address in Parliament, with the nonagenarian’s foes and supporters alike all variously describing the speech as “useless” and “hopeless” in light of the country’s accelerating economic meltdown.
Unconvinced legislators from the opposition MDC heckled Mugabe throughout his uncharacteristically short 30-minute speech, going on to ask him about the whereabouts of abducted journalist-turned-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, as well as Zanu PF’s 2013 election promises to create 2,2 million jobs by 2018.
And virtually all the people who were canvassed for a comment by the Daily News yesterday savaged the embattled nonagenarian’s speech for not containing any discernible themes, fresh ideas or promising proposals.
Instead, Mugabe typically blamed climate changes and declining international commodity prices for Zimbabwe’s poor economic performance, which is characterised by rising poverty levels and job losses.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai described Mugabe’s speech as “out of touch with reality”, while analysts dismissed it as “hopeless”.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, said so out of touch was Mugabe with the reality in Zimbabwe that he had “the audacity, even in the middle of this national economic collapse, to proclaim with a straight face that the economy is registering modest growth”.
“As widely expected, Mugabe failed to rise to the occasion. The crisis is bigger than the capacity of him and his government and he failed to take advantage of this day to announce to the nation the much-awaited news that he is retiring.
“Once again, this was vintage Mugabe — long on rhetoric but short on substance,” Tamborinyoka said.
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti said as long as Mugabe — who is the only leader to have led Zimbabwe since the country’s independence from Britain in April 1980 — was still in power, the country would not move forward.
“There is nothing new that he has said. We have heard all that before and it was a waste of time to listen to his speech. In fact, his legacy has been of destruction. We used to be the Switzerland of Africa but now we are truly the Zimbabwe ruins,” he said.
Biti added that it was also time for opposition political parties to “swallow their egos” and come together to unseat Mugabe and his Zanu PF government from power.
“We must coalesce together to find lasting solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems. We must all play our part to make the country successful again,” he said.
Veteran economist John Robertson said the State-of-the-Nation Address had merely confirmed the long-held views that the regime was clueless about turning around the country’s waning economic fortunes.
“We were all hoping that the president’s speech would show us the map to economic revival. But once again, we have lost. He has wasted his and everyone’s time by failing to provide solutions to the challenges affecting the economy,” he said.
Robertson added that there was need for strong economic policies that would help attract foreign investment, reduce the cost of doing business in the country and create employment, if Zimbabwe was to move forward.
“We are not likely to create employment if industry is not competitive,” he said.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said it was not a useful exercise for Zimbabweans to hope that things would change for the better with Mugabe and Zanu PF in power.
“Besides, the statement was embarrassingly short for a State-of-the-Nation Address. What was even more embarrassing was the heckling he was subjected to and it is sad that the head of State has allowed himself to sink that low.
“This also reflects how Zimbabweans no longer have confidence in Mugabe and the state. The sight was very undignifying and you do not often see that anywhere else in the world,” Mandaza said.
Former Zanu PF legislator Temba Mliswa also castigated his erstwhile leader for failing to address security matters, as well as “bread and butter” issues.
“The State-of-the-Nation Address did not capture fundamental issues affecting Zimbabweans such as the need to ensure the security of people. He should have shown concern on Dzamara’s disappearance because it is the expectation of citizens that the president shows concern with human rights issues.
“He should have also addressed issues to do with subsidising agriculture to encourage farmers to produce more, to improve food security in the country and to reduce imports,” Mliswa said.
But Zanu PF deputy spokesperson and Highfield West MP, Psychology Maziwisa, bucked the trend of commentary saying Mugabe had been “spot on” by speaking about the need for collective responsibility in implementing the ruling party’s ZimAsset economic blueprint.
“That is the kind of language we wanted to hear and so, we anticipate positive changes in the lives of people,” he said.
Respected academic and UZ political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said he had not wasted his time watching the address, which was beamed live on State TV.
“I did not listen to the so-called State-of-the-Nation Address because I had something more productive to do,” he said.
Zimbabweans had implored Mugabe to at least commit himself to meaningful human rights and economic reforms if his State of the Nation Address was not to become a complete damp squib, and if the country was to be brought back from the edge of the precipice.
Tsvangirai went to the extent of calling on Mugabe to take yesterday’s opportunity to announce his departure from office — as a necessary first step towards reviving the country’s fortunes.