WASHINGTON DC —
President Robert Mugabe came under a barrage of fire from the opposition and ordinary Zimbabweans Monday after claiming the country’s moribund economy had started coming out of the woods.
Seeking to tame rising public anger over his government’s poor handling of the economy and failure to deliver jobs that his Zanu PF party ambitiously promised ahead of the 2013 elections, Mugabe told a weekend ceremony that revival was already underway.
“Let me assure our people that the country’s economy is on the recovery path,” the long-ruling 90-year-old said. “Government is going to employ several measures aimed at achieving desired results.”
But citing the obtaining liquidity crunch sustained in part by poorly-fashioned economic policies and escalating company closures, critics came out swinging against Mugabe on Monday, accusing him of being out of lockstep with reality.
“The reality is that our corporate debt continues to balloon, families are failing to pay for their children at school and there are more company closures; so you can’t tell me that the economy is growing,” differed MDC spokesman Nhlanhla Dube.
“The economy is in fact bleeding faster that in 2008,” Dube added. “When you speak of an economy in resuscitation mode, you give us the decimals and the commas; give us empirical evidence. Show us how many jobs you have created.”
Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T formation also laid into President Mugabe, accusing him of daydreaming.
“We are extremely astounded by what President Mugabe has said,” Mwonzora said.
“We do not know which Zimbabwe he is talking about, maybe he is talking about his neighborhood in Borrowdale. But the rest of Zimbabweans are suffering, there are no jobs, no service delivery and there is a lot of poverty.”
Mugabe touted his government’s economic blueprint, ZIMASSET, saying it was the centerpiece for the desperately-needed revival.
But Mwonzora’s assessment of the blueprint wasn’t as complimentary.
“We are one year past the elections and not a single job has been created. In terms of ZIMASSET there must be service delivery; yet there is no service delivery. There are no policies that attract investment.”
Even Mugabe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa painted a rather gloomy outlook of the economy Monday, telling Parliament that as long as industrial activity remained subdued and exports were naught, renewal will only remain a mirage.
“What is required of us is to produce in the productive sectors. It could be manufacturing, mining, agriculture, tourism," Chinamasa said.
"We just have to produce goods and services that we can transact among ourselves and can export. Without that, it’s not fair for anyone to talk of a miracle economic recovery.”
But Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo vigorously defended his boss saying indeed the economy was on the mend.
“They (the MDC) were with us in the government for 5 years and they didn’t do anything tangible,” Gumbo charged. “The answer is ‘Yes’, we are doing better now, the President is correct.”
Since winning the general elections a year ago, Mugabe's Zanu PF government has failed to take control of the economy, therefore, risking a relapse into the economic and political meltdown that ravaged the country in 2008.