HARARE – Analysts say with the make-or-break 2018 national elections around the corner — coupled with the warring ruling Zanu PF continuing with its destructive policies of the past 37 years — there is little prospect that the dying local economy will turn around anytime soon.
At the same time, concerned Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the ruling party’s deepening tribal, factional and succession wars were set to intensify further as next year’s watershed polls loomed, and as President Robert Mugabe got frailer due to his advanced age and attendant poor health.
This comes as Zimbabwe is battling worsening shortages of both bond notes and the much-coveted United States dollars — amid real fears that the dying local economy is fast hurtling towards the debilitating lows of 2008 when all Zimbabweans became overnight, but pitifully poor “multi-billionaires”.
It also comes as economists have recently told the Daily News on Sunday — on the back of the country’s deepening economic crisis — that Zimbabwe’s average income levels are now at their lowest in more than 60 years, with more than 76 percent of the country’s populace having to make do with wretched incomes that are well below the poverty datum line.
As a result, the country’s international standing and sovereign ratings have also plummeted to shocking levels, which has seen Zimbabwe being classified recently as the poorest country in Africa — amid horrendous company closures and equally numbing levels of unemployment where many university graduates end up as street vendors.
“The economy needs lots of attention right now, but it is not getting any. Urgent issues are not being given enough effort because the party (Zanu PF) is concerned with mending itself, purely for self-preservation.
“Of course, there are a few individuals who are trying (to effect positive change). However, the state of the economy at the moment needs a collective effort and many politicians are putting themselves at the top, with the needs of the entire country neglected due to the culture of survival for a few people,” veteran economist John Robertson said yesterday.
Another economic expert, Ashok Chakravarti, also warned that as long as Mugabe did not call his warring lieutenants to order as a matter of urgency, the country’s stressed economy would continue on its downward spiral.
“There is need for a collective effort to address and resuscitate the economy. However, this will not happen if effort is being spent on infighting,” he said.
On its part, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said it had now become abundantly clear to all Zimbabweans that Zanu PF was not interested in improving the dying economy as its focus was on its leaders’ worsening succession fights.
“As a result, the Zanu PF regime is running a totally discordant and unco-ordinated administration in which the left hand never knows or cares about what the right hand is doing.
“Factionalism has become so deeply entrenched within Zanu PF that the centre can no longer hold.
“Instead of focusing on turning around the comatose economy, the feuding factions within the collapsing regime are tearing each other apart amidst a violent and nonsensical cataclysm of intolerance, physical violence and thuggery, as we recently witnessed in Bulawayo,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
“The cold, hard fact is that Mugabe and Zanu PF are no longer fit for purpose. They cannot and will not successfully turn around the economic fortunes of Zimbabwe. That’s the bottom line,” he added.
Mugabe and his warring ruling Zanu PF, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980, stand accused of turning the once thriving local economy, which at one time was regarded as the bread basket of Africa, into a basket case.
His government has lurched from one crisis to another over the past four decades, culminating in a girnomous economic crisis in 2008, as well as the current debilitating cash shortages.
So bad is the current economic crisis that the government is also scrambling to avert the country plunging into darkness after South African power utility, Eskom, threatened to switch its electricity supplies to Zim over arrears running into tens of millions of dollars.
Analysts said yesterday that with little investment coming in, the country was continuing to bleed as evidenced by the problems afflicting the health, education and public infrastructure sectors.
The rot in education became even more manifest last week when the Primary and Secondary Education ministry ill-advisedly announced that it planned to close 40 schools in Matabeleland South, over poor enrolments.
“Zanu PF appears to have consistently and persistently pursued policies that are parorchial and self-serving to meet the narrow interests of its leadership, with little or no regard to the interests of ordinary Zimbabweans,” political analyst Dewa Mavhinga told the Daily News on Sunday.
“I am not persuaded that when Zanu PF promised to create more than 2 million jobs they had any intention whatsoever of doing that. It was just a crass promise necessary to their goals, ahead of the 2013 elections.
“Everyone knows that to turn around Zimbabwe’s economy, the government should decisively deal with corruption, respect the rule of law, practise good governance and bring about political stability.
“The current Zanu PF top crop does not seem to have any appetite for any of that and therefore our economy, unsurprisingly, remains comatose,” he added.
Zanu PF is currently divided in the middle, with the camp which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, the Generation 40 (G40) faction, involved in a life-and-death tussle with the VP’s backers, Team Lacoste.
Observers have consistently said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s thorny succession riddle is fuelling the ruling party’s deadly infighting, which is worsening by the day.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.