PRESIDENT Mugabe last week declined to attend the hastily convened Sadc summit on Zimbabwe, held in Lusaka, which was attended by most of the region’s heads of state.
He stated that he saw no purpose in attending the summit, on the grounds that the agenda was to address the Zimbabwean crisis, saying there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, and hence no need for the summit to take place, let alone for him to attend it.
If the president genuinely believes that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, then he is either grossly mis-informed, or is astoundingly oblivious to the realities, or both.
In contradistinction to his contentions that Zimbabwe has no crisis, the actuality of the distressed country’s circumstances is that it has a vast plethora of crises, both political and economic.
In fact, whilst Zimbabwe is inordinately lacking in most things, including having immense scarcities of food, electricity, health care requisites, foreign exchange, and much, much else, one of the very few things that it has a grossly excessive surplus of is crises.
Should the presidential statement that Zimbabwe is not in crisis not have been mere politicking, but that which he believes to be so, then it is disturbing in the extreme that he should be so distanced and detached from the situation actually prevailing.
On the political environment, all stated intents that the elections be incontrovertibly demonstrated to be wholly democratic, and totally free and fair, have been completely negated by their actual conduct.
As if it did not suffice that millions had been disenfranchised, robbed of their previous rights to vote, the voters’ roll was in such disarray that that state was even acknowledged by some of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
This abysmal state of affairs was compounded by government’s careful selection of international observers to comprise only those whose bias was such that any electoral conduct would be deemed, and declared, to be “free and fair”. Like selectivity applied to the registration of international journalists.
Reinforcing the electoral distortions, the state media, which was bound to accord equal space and time to the contesting parties’ did so, but all coverage of President Mugabe and of Zanu PF was naught but eulogising praise, whilst all that devoted to the others was exclusively denigratory and misrepresentative.Â
But that was not sufficient destruction of any image that the elections were genuinely free and fair. Election results had been promised to be released within three days of closure of the polls but, more than a fortnight later, presidential election results had still not been released and, instead, Zanu PF demanded a recount.
This was simultaneous with calls for numerous recounts of votes for parliamentarians, notwithstanding that any such calls should have been made within forty-eight hours of completion of the counts, but were actually made more than a fortnight later.
The inevitable conclusion of the populace was that the prescribed forty-eight hours were insufficient time to assure a rigged recount! Also destroying any image of credibility was that the supposedly independent observers, including South Africa, ACP and AU saw fit to declare the elections to have been free and fair, and to depart Zimbabwe, before the vote counts were completed, and ahead of announcement of results!
Thus, Zimbabwe indisputably has a political crisis, with all concomitant negative consequences, notwithstanding categoric denials thereof by President Mugabe, and by President Mbeki, who is allowing his “quiet diplomacy” to fail horrendously, and in the process is regrettably destroying his own credibility.
However, as appalling as the political crisis is, it is far from the only crisis confronting the embattled Zimbabwe. The other crises are many, even if the President contends otherwise. They include:
lPronounced poverty, impacting upon an overwhelming majority of the population.
More than two-thirds of the Zimbabwean populace is struggling to survive on incomes very markedly below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL).
Most Zimbabweans are confronted with lives of severe malnutrition and under-nourishment, perpetual hunger, intense ill-health, inability to fund education, and are faced by numerous other inadequacies including, for many, a lack or insufficiency of housing. Surely this is an economic crisis!Â But the president says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis.
The world’s highest inflation, exacerbating the immense poverty which afflicts most Zimbabweans.
Even citing belatedly released, official inflation data, which evidences inflation of over 168 000% to February 2008, the inflation levels are horrendous, and are comparable to the oft-quoted, cataclysmic inflation sustained by Germany from 1922 to 1924, which progressively soared to levels in the billions of per cent range.Â
Bearing in mind that the official inflation date is based upon a Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is founded upon allegedly controlled prices, and not upon actually prevailing prices, and upon an out-dated, no longer currently relevant consumer spending basket, actual inflation In Zimbabwe now undoubtedly is considerably in excess of 300 000%, and steadily is rising upwards. Surely this is an economic and humanitarian crisis!Â
But the President says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis.
lMore than four-fifths of Zimbabwe’s employable population is without formal sector employment. Businesses are struggling to survive, in an economic environment of ever-decreasing consumer purchasing power, and lack of export market competitiveness.
As a result, most are continuously reducing the numbers employed, and many are forced into cessation of operations and total closure. New investment is minimal, primarily as a result of the horrendous economic circumstances, but also because government’s endless disregard for democracy, law and order, human rights, property rights, and economic fundamentals, is an immense deterrent to both foreign direct, and to domestic, investment.
The economy has contracted consistently since the turn of the century, and evidences no sign of an upturn. Zimbabwe’s economy in 2008 is less than half of that of a decade ago. Surely this is an economic crisis!Â But the president says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis.
lScarcities are gargantuan, be they of electricity, water, agricultural and industrial inputs, essential basic commodities. Far from there being any sign of imminent increased availability, all indications are that the scarcities, and the consequential discomforts for the populace, and further economic collapse, are intensifying continuously.
Surely this is an economic and humanitarian crisis! But the president says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis.
More than a quarter of Zimbabwe’s population has fled to other countries, in a desperate endeavour to generate a livelihood for themselves and for their dependants. As a result, Zimbabwe now suffers a paucity of essential skills, including doctors, nurses and other skilled health care providers, engineers, teachers, accountants, and all other skilled disciplines necessary to service the country’s socio-economic needs. Surely this is an economic and sociological crisis! But the president says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis.
These are but a few of the many, many grievous ills that presently afflict Zimbabwe, over and above the fact that Zimbabwe is increasingly an international pariah, primarily only befriended by other dictatorships and non-democratic states, and by those others as have also alienated the majority of the world’s developed countries.
Those ills are of such magnitude that they are gaining ever-greater proportions of inevitably national demise. Surely those ills are all of crisis proportions! But the president says Zimbabwe is not in a crisis.
Really, Mr President!Â Are you living in a different Zimbabwe from that which is home to all Zimbabwean who have become the victims of overwhelming, and ever-increasing, crises?Â The hard fact, albeit an unpalatable one, is that Zimbabwe is in crisis – pronounced crisis.
That must be recognised, and acknowledged, if Zimbabweans are to have any future, other than of never-ending misery and distress and, for very many, death.