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Time Mugabe took responsibility

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President Robert Mugabe turns 88 tomorrow and, as usual, he has granted State media wide-ranging interviews where he blames everyone but himself for Zimbabwe’s woes.

Mugabe has been in power for 32 years and despite earlier promise, the larger part of his reign has been disastrous.

The wheels started coming off in the 1980s when political intolerance saw the North Korean-trained 5th Brigade killing over 20 000 civilians believed to have been supporters of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.

Nkomo was largely considered the father of Zimbabwe’s revolution, but fell out of favour with Mugabe before the killings began.

Mugabe and Zanu PF were so intent on creating a one-party State even “Father Zimbabwe” could not stand in their way.

The new ruling elite soon abandoned the socialist ideals that oiled the liberation struggle and ministers began lining their pockets under Mugabe’s watch.

Who can forget the Willowgate scandal in 1988 where Zanu PF ministers abused a vehicle allocation scheme to resell their vehicles at a premium?

Then came the abuse of the War Victims’ Compensation Fund where the President’s brother in-law, the late Reward Marufu, was awarded Z$70 000 for 95% disability.

As Mugabe’s grip on power started to wane, in 1997 he awarded war veterans unbudgeted gratuities that put the economy in a tailspin. A haphazard land reform programme and even more opaque economic policies became the hallmark of Mugabe and Zanu PF’s leadership.

The latest vehicle for self-destruction that Zanu PF is

riding on is the indigenisation programme that has put brakes to an accelerated economic revival spurred by the normalisation of the political situation.

Yet in his interview with The Sunday Mail published yesterday, Mugabe blames Finance minister Tendai Biti for all the economic problems the country is facing.

Biti must have used the more than $500 million in Special Drawing Rights that Zimbabwe received from the International Monetary Fund to bankroll the agriculture sector, he pontificated.

By the agriculture sector, he meant the same new farmers who for years received free inputs from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and up to now have nothing to show for it.

Mugabe also accused Biti of being insensitive to the plight of civil servants by not giving them a meaningful salary increment.

But we found this to be a bit dishonest coming from the President because the plight of civil servants is nothing new.

The plight of civil servants caused by poor remuneration started well before Biti’s tenure and pretending otherwise is disingenuous.

Biti has only been part of Mugabe’s government for three years and came on board when the damage had already been done.

As expected, Mugabe also blamed Western sanctions for the economic collapse and does not make any mention of his previous governments’ omissions and commissions.

So until Mugabe makes an honest assessment of his track record and learns to take responsibility for his actions, Zimbabwe will remain stuck in this quagmire.

The state of Zimbabwe’s economy is a reflection of Mugabe’s ability. Making excuses and blaming others is a way of running away from responsibility.

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