Zimbabweans are continuing to analyze President Robert Mugabe’s State of the Nation Address that he delivered on Tuesday.
In his speech, which was often interrupted by applause from Zanu-PF members, and also jeers from members of the opposition party, President Mugabe painted a picture of Zimbabwe on the move – economically and socially – citing government plans to implement necessary policies that will effect change.
He highlighted growth and improvement in many sectors, including agriculture, which he said had performed more than anticipated.
Mr. Mugabe also highlighted growth in tourism, which he said had experienced tremendous growth of 5%, largely due to the country’s rich natural resources and peaceful climate and environment.
He also referred to the small-to-medium enterprises, drawing loud applause when he acknowledged that it was the “main source of livelihood for many,” in keeping with many estimates that more than 90% of the population has been driven to the informal sector due to high unemployment in the formal sectors.
President Mugabe announced that the country will come up with solutions that will address the needs of skills shortage and also vendor challenges, including areas to operate.
Mr. Mugabe predicted a lot of economic growth in the months to come, which he said will be in keeping with ZIMASSET objectives to spur economic growth.
Part of the strategy to improve the economy, President Mugabe said, was to reengage with the West, countries he’d in the past shunned.
“Government recognizes the importance of strengthening re-engagement with the international community,” he said, adding that, “indeed current re-engagement efforts with both bilateral and multilateral partners, including the Africa Development Bank, the Afro- Asian Bank, and the World Bank under various initiatives, should see improvement of relations and opening up of new financial financing avenues for long overdue reforms, and development cooperation.”
President Mugabe also expressed hope in participation from Zimbabweans in the diaspora to help improve the country’s business environment and promote and attract both domestic and foreign investment.
“In this regard it is our expectation that once the diaspora policy is finalized, it should spare all our people in the diaspora to take advantage of the many opportunities existing in the economy,” President Mugabe said.
Analysts are torn about the impact of the speech in Zimbabwe. Many members of the opposition, including former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, described President Mugabe’s address as out of touch, while some supporters and members of the ruling ZanuPF party have endorsed it as progressive and very in tune with the country’s needs.
Zanu-PF information consultant, Goodson Nguni, applauded President Mugabe’s address and said the government is working to help the economy improve, while spokesperson Jacob Mafume of the MDC Renewal, disagreed, dousing the address as desperate and “gasping for air.”