President’s speechwriters up to mischief

Listening to Mugabe’s address at the AU Assembly of Heads of State in South Africa, one is left wondering if the President’s speechwriters played a cruel joke on the elderly leader.

It would not be the first time Mugabe has been clowned by his own staff – remember those naughty presidential aides who left hazardous folds in the red carpet to cause The Great Fall at Harare International Airport.

Mugabe told African heads of state to stop exporting goods in raw form. Our dear leader – the most educated President in the world – sounded most erudite, as he nonchalantly tossed about big phrases like ‘beneficiation’ and ‘value addition,’ which would have sent Elizabeth Windsor II scurrying for her copy of the Thesaurus. But in as much as big words sound pleasant to the ears of us mere mortals, Mugabe’s speech is rather strange, coming from the one who has destroyed Zimbabwe’s once vibrant economy.

Bulawayo’s industry is all but dead and Harare’s manufacturing is functioning at way below 30% capacity, thanks to Mugabe’s dim-witted policies. Several multinational corporations which once had offices and factories in Zimbabwe have relocated to other African countries. According to Mugabe’s finance minister, 4,610 businesses closed between 2011 and 2014, leaving 55,000 people jobless.

100 years backwards

In the agricultural sector, Zimbabwe has rewound its sundials back 100 years. After evicting white farmers who ran highly mechanised farms, we have replaced combined harvesters and John Deere tractors with donkeys and cattle-drawn ploughs. Once a food exporter, we now import maize, rather ironically, grown by ex Zimbos in Zambia.

After being ejected from Zimbabwe, several farmers took with them a century of agricultural know-how to Zambia and Mozambique – from where they now sell us grain. Many of Mugabe’s cronies – veterans of the liberation war and former war collaborators – who have failed to run farms given to them by Mugabe are now surreptitiously leasing the land to white farmers.

Over 60% of goods on the Zimbabwean market are imported from South Africa. We import apples, milk, toilet paper and even toothpicks.

To say that we have gone back 100 years is an insult to our ancestors who knew iron smelting. Once upon a time, we traded minerals with (not begged from) the Portuguese. We produced iron and copper. Iron and copper ingots have been unearthed at Great Zimbabwe. Now we need Indians and the Chinese to extract minerals from our own land – the very minerals Mugabe will not stop harping on about.

We did not need Zambia for grain. We grew our own. The chiefs and kings of that era kept a strategic grain reserve – what was known as Zunde raMambo – to feed the citizens.

Post published in: Analysis

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