REVELATIONS that 96% of people in rural areas are living in abject poverty make sad reading. This comes less than a week after President Robert Mugabe delusionally declared that the economy is on the rebound.
CANDID COMMENT FAITH ZABA
One wonders if Mugabe is living in his own world as he makes pronouncements that are completely divorced from reality on the ground — an imploding economy marked by massive company closures and job losses.
The economy continues to nosedive with a debilitating liquidity crunch. Capacity utilisation has tumbled from 57,2% in 2011 to 34,3% this year, while company closures have intensified with more than 4 600 companies closing shop between 2011 and 2014, resulting in the loss of 55 443 jobs.
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 North have a shocking poverty prevalence of 96%, while areas like Lupane in the same province have a 93% poverty prevalence, Gokwe South in Midlands (91%) and Mudzi in Mashonaland East (90%).
Rising poverty in the country’s rural areas is clear evidence of Zanu PF and government’s leadership and policy failures.
Zanu PF and government are doing nothing to either reverse or contain the consequences of their economic mismanagement.
At the Victoria Falls where the party was meeting for its annual talk shop last week, they failed to proffer solutions to revive the economy or come up with strategies to avert further pauperisation of the masses, which is likely to worsen in 2016 as the country faces one of its worst drought periods in many years despite current rains.
This comes when new estimates reveal a worrying upsurge in the number of people facing starvation, which could rise to 3,3 million by the first quarter of 2016 from the current 1,5 million.
Instead, the Zanu PF conference focused on prolonging Mugabe’s hold on power, with province after province resolving that the 91-year-old leader be the party’s candidate in the 2018 elections, at which time he will be 94. To make it worse, development opportunities are lost in the party’s continued factional fights where votes- of-no-confidence rule the roost.
The electorate did not vote for Zanu PF to exhaust its energy on power struggles, but to tackle the suffocating poverty engulfing the rural areas where the majority of Zimbabweans reside.
They did not vote to hear bland statements about ZimAsset and poverty eradication when virtually nothing is being done to fix the situation.
Indeed, it is a mockery that people are suffering, while Zanu PF leaders remain locked in fights for selfish political interests. Zanu PF was meeting in luxurious surroundings focusing on internal power struggles, while ignoring to the worsening impoverishment and starvation. This is a tragedy.
Zimbabweans cannot continue to be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency all the time.