Opposition Mavambo Kusile Dawn party leader Simba Makoni says President Robert Mugabe's incompetence is to blame for Zimbabwe's deepening economic problems, adding that the ageing leader should stop blaming sanctions for his own failures.
Economists, industrialists and labour experts are warning of a troubled 2014 for Zimbabwe as many companies are slipping into liquidation or judicial management, throwing thousands of workers out of the job market and invariably pushing the unemployment rate close to 90 percent.
In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, the former finance minister who broke ranks with Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party in 2008 to contest as an independent presidential candidate said countries that had tougher international sanctions than Zimbabwe emerged even stronger economically through Import Substitution Industrialization.
Makoni cited Rhodesia, apartheid South Africa and Iraq as having fared much better than Zimbabwe even under strigent sanctions. He took a swipe at Mr. Mugabe saying he has “nothing to hide behind apart from his incompetence and his unwillingness to work for the people of Zimbabwe.”
Makoni says the government of Zimbabwe has for years come up with more than 14 brilliant economic blueprints, but Mr Mugabe has been unwilling to implement them.
The 28-nation European Union, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 in protest at human rights abuses and violations of democracy under Mr Mugabe.
But the grouping has gradually eased sanctions over the last few years to encourage political reform.
The United States also implemented the targeted sanctions program against Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle in 2003 as a result of the "actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermining democratic institutions and processes in Zimbabwe."
Critics however say the sanctions, aimed at forcing Mr. Mugabe onto a more democratic path, only gave the Zanu-PF leader an excuse to clampdown on the opposition, leading to violent elections such as the inconclusive 2008 ballot.
Mr. Mugabe has also blamed sanctions for the country’s decade-long recession which left the country’s economy near complete collapse and forced millions of Zimbabweans to escape into neighboring countries.
Makoni also said Mr. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party which has been crippled by factionalism as the race to succeed the 90 year old Mugabe hots up has been on “the decay for a long time and president Robert Mugabe has tried to paper the cracks and pretend that the party is united.”
Makoni also criticised the media for allegedly blowing clashes in his own party out of proportion after some members questioned the wisdom of not contesting last year's presidential election and backing former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.
Makoni says only a handful of his party supporters are against him forming alliances with other opposition political parties contrary to media claims that this strategy is threatening to tear the party apart.
The former finance minister has vowed to consider strategic alliances in future if he feels they are necessary.
In an exclusive interview with Studio 7’s Blessing Zulu, Makoni says he is in the process of restructuring his party.