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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Has the economy proved Mugabe’s illegitimacy
    Clifford Chitupa Mashiri
    November 05, 2013

    Contrary to assertions by Zanu-PF propagandists, Zimbabwe’s economy seems to have proved Robert Mugabe’s illegitimacy as President following the disputed polls on 31 July 2013.

    If you missed, the state-owned and fiercely partisan Herald newspaper website on 5 November won the trophy for waxing lyrical about Robert Mugabe’s ‘presidency’ as the economy grinds to a halt as street vending becomes the industry of choice in Zimbabwe’s high and low density areas.

    Totally oblivious of the steep economic decline in the country since Mugabe’s landslide made in Israel, as typified by reports of Zimbabwe’s university graduates surviving on vending, The Herald’s top news headlines outsprinted the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC’s) ‘Top Stories’. There was nothing uplifting in the state media’s news reports; let alone demand for leadership and accountability by the Zanu-PF regime.

    Despite reports by the independent press of ‘Manufacturing sector in crisis’, ‘Zimbabwe tumbles on World Bank rankings’, ‘NRZ seeks permission to lay-off thousands’, ‘Zanu-PF at war with itself’ and ‘Poor policies affect Zim’, The Herald raved about: ‘President Mugabe returns’, ‘Cash for raided forex holders’,‘3500 robbed in city taxi kidnappings’, ‘President in SA for joint conference’, ‘President Mugabe arrives in SA’, ‘Zim military on alert against Renamo’, and ‘2014 National Budget presentation to be delayed’.

    Following closely behind fellow comrades was the state broadcaster, ZBC with: “Zim’s shared history with Cuba’, ‘Intelligence gurus should defeat terrorism’, ‘President Mugabe back from SADC, Great Lakes summit’, ‘Zambian envoy meets Prof Moyo’, ‘Provincial polls credible: Zanu-PF’. With such Soviet-era news reporting, no wonder why Zimbabwe remains backward.

    On the other hand, the independent Daily News (5 November 2013) noted that Zimbabwe’s unemployment levels are “escalating at astronomical rates despite promises from the Zanu-PF led government that at least 2.2 million jobs would be created.”

    However, it is the paper’s revelation that at least 30,000 graduates churned out from universities and tertiary colleges every year are resorting to desperate measures, with some forced into menial jobs including vending, which is really heart rending. As the late Prof Masipula Sithole once observed, by expanding education, Mugabe could be digging his own grave.

    The sad news does not come as a surprise to those who have been following closely events in the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia. For example, in an unpublished opinion paper that I wrote on 3 August 2013 entitled: ‘Why a victory for Robert Mugabe is bad for Zimbabwe’, I contradicted Roy Agyemang’s article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper entitled: ‘Why a victory for Robert Mugabe would be good for Zimbabwe’ published on 02 August 2013.

    Despite sending my 5-paper paper to The Guardian on 3 August, it has still not been published. Agyemang claimed Mugabe had proved critics “at home and abroad wrong with a brand of political independence now yielding economic freedom.” It was that sweeping statement that inspired my response.

    After reading Mr Agyemang’s article, he forgot to provide evidence of the economic freedom that he said was being yielded by Mugabe’s brand of political independence. Instead, prominent Zimbabwe economist Eric Bloch also foresaw the present-day poor performance of the economy in his article, ‘Elections accelerating economic decline’, The Zimbabwe Independent, 19 July 2013.

    Bloch asserted that the economy having intensively declined [under the stewardship of Robert Mugabe] from 1997 to 2008, “it was good that there was some economic upturn from 2009 (once the so-called Government of National Unity came into being) notwithstanding that the extent of the recovery fell-short of what was needed.”

    The Bulawayo-based economist perceptively pointed out that the change in the formerly moderate anticipations had, within weeks, radically changed. Some analysts argued that Mugabe has reached his sell by date as a champion for economic growth and development.

    Others saw a gloomy outlook for the economy in the event of Mugabe winning the presidential poll that took place on July 3. For instance, see Chris Muronzi’s, ‘Death knell for economy if Mugabe wins’, Zimbabwe Independent, 26 July 2013). Mugabe is seen as bereft of new ideas to stimulate growth of the economy.

    It is true as asserted by Mr Agyemang that Robert Mugabe belongs to a dying breed of politicians on the African continent. There is no doubt that he was moulded in the politics of African nationalism which was radicalised through armed resistance to settler colonialism.

    But, Mugabe transformed himself from the liberation war hero to an aged tyrant, surpassing the one depicted in The Treatise of the Government of Florence by Girolamo Savanarola in the introduction to Nicollo Machievelli’s The Prince.

    Most significantly, the man who crafted Mugabe’s executive presidency law, learned lawyer and academic the late Dr Eddison Zvobgo expressed concern that Mugabe had failed to pass on the baton by overstaying in power.

    Notwithstanding, the MDC’s complacency, Mr Agyemang confidently claimed that ‘more dramatically, the MDC, Mugabe’s supposed bête noire, is on course to a crushing defeat in the latest election.’

    But Mr Agyemang seemed unaware of the expose by The Daily Mail on Sunday (“Proof Mugabe buys elections”, 20/07/13), that top secret documents shown to the paper indicated there was a multi-million dollar strategy allegedly led by security forces in alliance with the Chinese Communist Party and Nikuv (an Israeli firm) to allegedly ‘neutralise hostile votes’ in urban areas where MDC support is highest.

    Furthermore, an analysis of the June 2013 voters roll found significant anomalies including that 2 million young voters mainly in urban areas (mainly MDC strongholds) were unregistered as voters. Similarly, 3 million exiled Zimbabwean exiles (mostly opposition supporters) were disenfranchised by the regime. If there is nothing dubious about Zimbabwe’s electronic voters roll, why are the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Registrar General withholding it despite court petitions?

    The question now is ‘Has the economy proved Mugabe’s illegitimacy?’ Indications are that to real investors, Mugabe’s regime remains illegitimate due to the disputed election. The dictator’s claim of election ‘victory’ is further eroded by reports that Zanu-PF allegedly rigged its own provincial elections. As a result, the country is facing famine and grinding poverty as Mugabe dithers on tackling choking corruption that is bleeding Chiadzwa diamonds despite posturing about Masimirembwa’s alleged role in the US$6 million Diamond Gate scandal.

    Admittedly, some reports claim a bumper tobacco harvest by a select few who benefited from Zanu-PF’s violent land grab albeit after 18 white farmers were killed and 620 000 farm workers lost their jobs and homes as well as citizenship for some.

    In light of the return by finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, empty-handed from meetings with IMF officials amid calls on the Zanu-PF regime to ask for debt forgiveness, there is vindication for those of us who argued that Mugabe can rig polls but not the economy.

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