Remarks show Mugabe is detached from reality

“Civil servants must be tired of hearing the same empty promises by now. Right now they would be glad just to have fixed dates for their meagre salaries.”

REMARKS by President Robert Mugabe in his Independence Day celebration speech on Monday this week that the economy is on the rebound were not only shocking, but also showed just how far detached the nonagenarian is from the reality on the ground.

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In a speech to mark Zimbabwe’s 36th Independence anniversary, Mugabe claimed his government had managed to turn around the economy and create jobs for the impoverished citizens.

Such ghastly tripe coming from Mugabe shows that just like smoking is hazardous to one’s health, the frail 92-year-old leader is now a threat to the country’s well-being.

That his remarks are coming at a time when there are waves upon waves of retrenchments in addition to those dismissed last year through a Supreme Court ruling that allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice, must have had even his ministers shuffling their feet in embarrassment at what their principal was telling the nation.

Mugabe’s startling remarks come at a time when there is a debilitating liquidity squeeze as shown by the cash shortage in banks, capacity utilisation is less than 35% and when company closures and job losses are the order of the day.

Mugabe said this at a time his own daughter preferred to give birth to his first grandson more than 8 000 kilometres away from home because the local hospitals have become death-traps thanks to his ruinous policies.

Mugabe’s comments add insult to injury which he has inflicted on Zimbabweans through his prolonged negligence and misrule.

Poverty

Civil servants must have scoffed at President Mugabe’s promise in the same speech to increase their salaries to the poverty datum line level (PDL), which hovers around US$500.

Mugabe is making this promise barely three years after making a similar promise and this time the government workers will surely see through this hot air.

After all, government has already been struggling to pay civil servants on time. For the first time since the country gained independence in 1980, civil servants went for last year’s Christmas holidays penniless after government failed to pay their December salaries before the festive season.

That Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is still paying last year’s bonuses puts into context just how absurd Mugabe’s promises are. Mugabe should focus on paying civil servants on time before he daydreams about paying PDL salaries.

As one bemused reader observed: “Civil servants must be tired of hearing the same empty promises by now. Right now they would be glad just to have fixed pay dates for their meagre salaries.”

Silly threats

Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira decided to flex her muscles and threatened striking National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers with dismissal if they did not return to work in 24 hours.

However, the minister’s threat had the effect of dripping tap water on a raging forest fire with her ultimatum rightly ignored. In fact, the families of the affected workers have joined the strike to press for 15 months in unpaid wages after Mupfumira’s worthless threat.

Mupfumira’s ultimatum shows government is clueless on how to resolve the issue as it is broke and like the classroom bully, can only resort to useless threats. The minister should know that threatening the workers will not in any way bring the money owed to them. If anything Mupfumira and her colleagues in cabinet should find tangible solutions to end the strike by workers who are victims of mismanagement and gross incompetence on the part of those appointed to run the affairs of the parastatal.

That Mupfumira’s threat comes with no solutions to the crisis shows just how rudderless the country is with such incompetent leaders in government!

Incompetent

Dismissal of the MDC-T-led demonstration by Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was both shocking and embarrassing.

Although it is understandable that there is bad blood between MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Biti, for the PDP to criticise the MDC-T for exercising its constitutional right to demonstrate against, among other things, the government’s scandalous negligence in allowing diamonds worth billions of dollars to be looted, is daft in the extreme. It is a classic case of the PDP cutting its nose to spite its face.

That the dumb remarks by the party’s secretary Tongai Matutu got generous coverage in the government-controlled media makes them look like an extension of Zanu PF. There are a number of sticks to beat Tsvangirai with, but this is surely not one of them.

Matutu waffled that providing solutions was more critical than gathering 20 000 people. This showed that they missed the point entirely.

The fact that thousands bravely joined the demonstration despite the presence of the menacing baton-wielding police clearly showed the extent of the anger and frustration of Zimbabweans. For the PDP to belittle this show of public outrage casts serious doubt that they are a party that should be taken seriously.

Biti and his party should work on being more visible on the ground and creating momentum against the culture of impunity in Mugabe’s government than just blathering in newspapers against people’s right to demonstrate.
Barbarism

If there was any evidence needed that Zanu PF still has a long way to embrace democracy, it was amply provided by the war veterans who disrupted parliamentary proceedings last week.

A group of war veterans on Wednesday last week tried to stop a public hearing on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill at Mutare Civic Centre, saying the event could not go ahead on the same day two national heroines, Victoria Chitepo and Vivian Mwashita, were being buried in Harare.

“You should cancel this meeting, as we are burying two heroines today. Come another day. You cannot go ahead with your hearings,” one of the war veterans told members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Jessie Majome and those of the Thematic Committee on Human Rights, led by Senator Damien Mumvuri, adding that he was at the civic centre because he failed to get transport to Harare to attend the burials at the National Heroes Acre.

There you have it. Because there is a burial at the National Heroes Acre, everything else should stop according to this seemingly neurotic comrade.

This barbarism is the reason why this country is widely grouped with despotic countries such as North Korea and Burma. That war veterans disrupt MPs at such an important hearing shows that the culture of lawlessness is still prevalent.

As usual, the police seemed to be too busy to prevent lawful demonstrations to stop these rogue war veterans who have clearly become a law unto themselves and who are a national disgrace.

short and sweet

After being humiliated by his uncle President Mugabe, who stopped him from attacking the financial services sector through the indigenisation policy, Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao is back this time with plans for a youth empowerment strategy.

“We have embarked on a process, as a ministry, of developing a youth empowerment strategy for making that investment. The strategy seeks to address economic empowerment, social engagement and political participation,” Zhuwao told a local weekly.

We do hope that there will be more communication around this strategy and not be like a bull in a China shop as he was when pushing for the closure of companies and threatening the financial services sector before being stopped in his tracks.

After all once bitten twice shy!