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Urgent issues here at home

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has not been at work properly since mid-December last year when he went for holidays, as usual, in the Far East with his family where he, as you might expect, took the opportunity to have medical attention in Singapore.

Zimbabwe Independent

He was initially set to come back home and to work in mid-January but he returned much later than that.

To his credit, he apologised for his prolonged absence, but then no sooner had he come back and chaired one cabinet meeting than he was out again — first to Zambia for the swearing-in of newly-elected President Edgar Lungu and then to Ethiopia for the African Union (AU) summit.

So this means he has not been working at home on the most urgent issues affecting Zimbabweans for well over a month since he only returned from the AU on Wednesday amid dramatic scenes at the Harare International Airport where he embarrassingly tumbled to the ground while walking on a carpet from the podium where he had just addressed ministers, security service chiefs and his supporters.

Before his fall it appeared age has not slowed him down. If anything, the opposite seemed true: Mugabe was at the peak of his powers, and revelling in his new rotational and largely ceremonial position as the AU chairperson. While his supporters waxed lyrical about the AU non-event, his critics were saying if only he would use his position, whatever power and influence it gives him, for the good rather than evil.

However, his fall on Wednesday reopened the debate about whether or not he is still fit to govern, particularly given his old age and associated health complications.

Mugabe will soon be turning 91. The grim reality of this though is that he won’t be able to cope with taxing duties, demands and pressures of his challenging job. To run a country is a complex business. It needs dynamism, leadership and vision — the sort of qualities he no longer can offer at the twilight years of his long political career and life.

While he spent so much time on holidays and seeking medical care, the country, the economy to be specific, was burning. Upon his return he was seized with the Zambian elections where he went for a swearing-in ceremony well before results were announced, incurring the wrath of opposition supporters in Lusaka.

Mugabe is also now preoccupied with AU matters rather than pressing issues at home. For him it appears Sadc and AU activities are more important than urgent problems buffeting his own country.

The president needs to quickly realise that most urgent issues for him are here at home not elsewhere. He needs to be serious about his job and tackling the current economic problems, including company closures, unemployment and poverty.

After all he voluntarily promised to create two millions jobs, which was a daydream, before the last elections but is failing dismally to deliver. In fact, jobs are being lost on an alarming scale.

As we have repeatedly said, the issues that need to be confronted are clear: policy clarity and consistency, reforms, improvement of the investment climate and ease of doing business, liquidity situation, boosting productivity and competitiveness. There are many others, but these are currently the most critical.

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