Mugabe to deliver jobs – sort of

President Robert Mugabe in 2013 promised to create over two million jobs for the hordes of unemployed graduates loitering on Zimbabwe’s street corners. Two years have passed since this promise and, so far, there have been no new jobs to speak of.

As a matter of fact, hundreds of companies have shut down, putting even more Zimbabweans out of work.

The country’s jobless data should come with a health warning for anybody daring to read it; over 80% of employable adults are without jobs, with 55,000 retrenched between 2011 and 2014 as a result of 4,610 company closures, meaning three business shut-downs per day.

The businesses that remain in operation are barely surviving. Late payment of salaries and cutbacks are commonplace. With the hospitality business at its lowest (36% bed occupancy and 48% room occupancy in 2014), the largest hotel group has been reduced to offering a ‘stay now, pay later’ scheme for guests. Even the biggest mobile network provider has slashed employee salaries by 35%. Better a pay cut than no job at all.

Sanctions are no excuse

Mugabe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has worn the Harare Airport concrete thin from making several flights to China in search of funding for Zanu (PF)’s pie-in-the-sky ZimAsset programme. It is on this ZimAsset mirage that Mugabe constructed his promise of two million jobs and 313,000 new houses countrywide, all within five years. But so far, Chinamasa’s travels have been an exercise in futility – ‘we want bankable projects,’ say the Chinese.

If there has been anything sensible emerging from the ruling party, it has come from the most unlikely source – the often-maligned Joseph Chinotimba, MP for Buhera South. In a ZTV interview, Chinotimba asks the weightiest question, ‘pawaiCampaigner, wakaudza vanhu kuti ndichakuitirai zvakati zvikati kana ndawana mari here kana kuti wakangoti ndichaita zvakati?’ (’When you were campaigning, did you make promises to deliver, on the proviso that you receive funding, or did you simply promise to deliver without any conditions attached?” Sanctions and lack of funds for ZimAsset are not an excuse.

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