President Robert Mugabe’s outburst against Britain and the United States, whom he accused of sponsoring vendors to remain on the streets of Harare, once again exposed him as an aloof leader.
Mugabe either lacks honest advisers or believes in the propaganda that his ministers regularly churn out through official channels.
A couple of weeks ago there were fictitious stories that foreign governments were behind the influx of informal traders on the streets of all urban centres in Zimbabwe.
The stories were dismissed as the usual fiction that is often passed as news when Zanu PF is pushed into a corner, but Mugabe’s statements on Wednesday during a small to medium business expo in Harare revealed that the government took such reports seriously.
The veteran ruler singled out British and US envoys, accusing them of paying vendors to remain on the streets so that they could engineer lawlessness.
He said the two countries were demon-possessed for allegedly trying to promote divisions in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe refuses to take responsibility for the economic collapse that has pushed unemployment rates to over 85% as he blames everything that has gone wrong on Western countries.
However, blaming the same governments for the influx of unemployed people trying to eke out a living on the streets is stretching things too far even by Zanu PF standards.
There is no reason for the chaos on the streets other than the unprecedented collapse of the economy.
The formal economy has been decimated by years of toxic policies by Mugabe’s government and lack of leadership.
Mugabe has been at the helm for the past 35 years and cannot be allowed to pass the buck all the time.
Zimbabwe has an employment crisis that has seen millions, among them university graduates, turning to vending and this has seen an unsustainable number of people roaming the streets chasing the few dollars.
The government gave the vendors a June 26 deadline to leave the streets, but failed to provide viable alternative vending sites for the affected people.
The sites where people were forced to relocate to especially in Harare were remote and have no ablution facilities.
Long-suffering vendors do not need to be told by Westerners that such places would not be viable for their business and that they are a health hazard.
Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF have used such patronising logic before, accusing Western countries of influencing Zimbabwean voters to vote for opposition parties that are funded by the West.
The Zanu PF leader’s lack of appreciation of the situation on the ground was also evident when he said Harare now resembled a West African city where people sold goats in the city centre.
He is either living in denial or does not care about how the people most affected by the economic tragedy are surviving.
A few weeks ago Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa boldly declared that Zimbabwe had fallen 20 years behind her African peers in terms of development.
Mugabe does not need to go as far as West Africa for examples of how impoverished people would try to cope when pushed against the wall.
If goats are being sold in the Harare city centre, it is a sure sign that the wheels have come off.
Mugabe should learn to take responsibility for his shortcomings and stop seeing ghosts everywhere.
His obsession with the US and Britain would certainly endanger efforts to re-engage the international community and drive Zimbabwe further into economic ruin.