Mugabe's many excuses for a feeble economy have worn thin in Zimbabwe, where many people still await an "indepence dividend" as the country markets 35 years of independence, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 13 April 2015
ZIMBABWE President Robert Mugabe raised some laughs with offbeat remarks and jokes during his state visit to SA last week. Back home, though, there was little to smile about as the country headed for its 35th anniversary of independence this weekend.
After decades in power, Mugabe presides over an economy that the African Development Bank has described as "fragile".
The bank says Zimbabwe is undergoing "structural regression", the key features of which are accelerating informalisation of the economy and de-industrialisation.
Mugabe’s bellicose speech about black empowerment delivered to an applauding audience at a business forum in Pretoria last week failed to mention that about 55,000 people have lost their jobs in the three years to 2014 as 4,610 companies closed their doors, unable to survive the economic ravages his populist policies have wrought.
Mugabe’s administration, with few scapegoats left to blame for the state of the economy, still tries to point the finger at sanctions as the reason for its misfortune. While limited, targeted sanctions are in place, many of the world’s wealthy emerging markets have no sanctions whatsoever against Zimbabwe, but they are not investing there.
Political expediency is what drives the government of Zimbabwe, not the economy, not the interests of investors and certainly not the interests of its citizens, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 5 January 2015
AS 2000 dawned I was at an event where the subject of Zimbabwe came up. Many people in the discussion were adamant that President Robert Mugabe would be out of power within a few years. Then, they said, Zimbabwe would re-emerge as an economic power — Mugabe’s removal was seen as a necessary condition for economic revival.
At the time the economy was in trouble. Zimbabwe’s currency had plunged as a result of huge unbudgeted payouts to war veterans and it was burning money it did not have to prop up the president in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The year 2000 was seen as a watershed year. For the first time since 1980 the population voted against a Zanu (PF) plan — the new constitution — in a referendum at about the same time that a new political opposition emerged, which nearly won the election that year.
It seemed just possible then that Mugabe was on shaky ground.