ZIMBABWE – Despite the myriad political and economic challenges ravaging Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF says its much-maligned government has done well over the past 36 years, blaming worsening poverty levels in the country on global economic turbulence.
Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told yesterday that the former liberation movement had done “extremely well” over the past two years in particular, in spite of the sluggish global economic performance during this time.
“We have done extremely well for our people under the circumstances as a party in terms of the mandate we were given in 2013, with the generality of the population feeling the (positive) effects of ZimAsset, our economic blueprint, that we are focused on implementing at the moment,” Khaya Moyo said.
He added that Zanu PF would this year be expending “most of the party’s energy on enforcing the implementation of ZimAsset for the continued benefit of our people”.
“We do not believe as Zanu PF that we are in control of the world economic meltdown.
“We cannot be the one to be blamed for the drought we are experiencing, that is a natural disaster but we have again said that none of our people are going to starve as we are putting in place mechanisms to avert such a situation,” Khaya Moyo said.
But the main opposition MDC reacted with incredulity to the ruling party’s claims and bullish sentiments, adding contemptuously that Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s “misrule deserve a special place in the Guinness Book of World Records”.
“It can be a good case study for those in academia on how to wreck a once thriving economy and how to run down a country.
“Zanu PF should be reminded that the wages of sin is death and they sinned against God and the people of Zimbabwe on July 31, 2013 when they denied them the right to choose a leader of their own choice,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
He also accused Zanu PF of “diabolic hypocrisy given the breathtaking levels of poverty in rural areas emanating from Zanu PF’s chaotic land reform programme which has proved to be a spectacular disaster”.
Zimbabwe is faced with critical food shortages this year and has been ranked third from the bottom among the top 20 countries most prone to hunger.
The International Food Policy Research Institute in its latest Global Hunger Index said Zimbabwe was going to experience widespread starvation in 2016, with close to two million people already said to be in dire straits.
But with Zimbabwe continuing on its precipitous decline that is widely blamed on Mugabe and Zanu PF — and which is now manifested by a stone broke State that can’t pay its workers, as well as rising poverty levels in the country — analysts warn of looming civil strife in 2016.
The analysts who spoke to the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday at the weekend said Zimbabwe was by all indications teetering on the brink of total collapse, a situation that was spawning worsening citizen despondency which could lead to growing opposition to Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s 36 years in power.
Political scientist Ibbo Mandaza said with the country almost on its knees amid shocking unemployment levels, looming mass starvation, escalating company closures and job redundancies, as well as a sharp deterioration in social and health services, Zimbabwe had become a laughing stock in the Sadc region.
Against this dire background, he said, civil strife was likely to escalate from now onwards as desperate Zimbabweans looked to have the myriad problems that they faced eased.
“Opposition parties have largely become bystanders in the unfolding Zanu PF factional and succession drama that is negatively impacting on the country and its economy.
“The net result of all the intensifying succession battles is that it is the economy that continues to suffer, a situation which could galvanise mass opposition to Zanu PF and the State beyond political parties,” Mandaza warned.
He said it was also possible that opposition parties such as former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s yet-to-be launched People First would “take advantage” of the deteriorating environment, while many others would become “irrelevant” as the much-anticipated 2018 general elections approached.
Afghanistan-based analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said the country’s opposition forces had weakened to the extent that many people felt that their hope and destiny lay in their own hands.
“Sadly, the various opposition parties will not unite to create a united front due to the egos of their leaders.
“If anything, people are likely to be forced to revolt against Zanu PF as the economic problems continue to affect everyone, with no reprieve in sight,” Saungweme said.
Mandaza avered that Mugabe’s weakening hold on power would be compounded by the fact that the “centre of gravity” in the ruling party had been “shifted” by its mindless bloodletting which had seen many of its leading stalwarts chased away — with “no one knowing what they are doing and where they will re-emerge”.
“Owing to the seemingly unending purges, Zanu PF has made the so-called People First bigger by default and it will certainly be the biggest elephant in the room that they cannot afford to ignore,” he said.
Mandaza said the ugly ructions had created divisions not just in the party, but also within the State, adding that “those who purged others are now fighting among themselves and ‘I do not see either the G40, (Mugabe’s wife) Grace or (embattled Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa coming out as the winner’”.
All these sentiments come as poverty levels in Zimbabwe are said to have reached alarming proportions, with a recent authoritative survey revealing that in some areas of the country, as many as 96 percent of villagers live on less than a dollar a day.
According to the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas for 2015 — a research carried out by ZimStat, the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) — areas such as Nkayi in Matabeleland have a shocking poverty prevalence of 96 percent.
Most analysts are agreed that the main factors behind this dire state of affairs are the misrule of Mugabe’s Zanu PF administration and the recurrent drought which has left most parts of the country relying on humanitarian aid.
According to the survey, some of the other districts which were experiencing high levels of poverty were Lupane with 93 percent poverty prevalence, Gokwe South 91 percent, and Mudzi 90 percent.
In Nkayi, out of an estimated population of 107 613, with an average of five people making up a household, 21 112 households had no income sufficient to provide for their basic necessities, the study revealed.
Critics say instead of focusing on reviving the country’s comatose economy, the ruling post-congress Zanu PF has been consumed by its unending factional and succession wars, at the expense of bread and butter issues.
And as Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown accelerates, analysts also warn of a looming and catastrophic shutdown of important government functions, with insiders telling the Daily News on Sunday that the cash squeeze that has been crippling the fiscus over the past two years has now reached a “crisis” point.