President Robert Mugabe was yesterday expected back in Zimbabwe from his month-long sojourn and we hope he is a refreshed man, as he returns to a country whose problems have somewhat multiplied in his absence.
NEWSDAY WEEKENDER COMMENT
While his supporters and the ever effervescent State media would like to believe that nothing has changed since 2015 or better still the country’s fortunes are on the up, Mugabe will be confronted with the opposite.
For starters, Mugabe’s return comes at the height of uncertainty over civil servants’ bonuses.
While he directed that public workers get their 13th cheques, the reality on the ground is quite different and as captain of the ship, it is high time he put finality on the matter.
The only problem is Mugabe is wont to rhetoric and populism and we are not holding our breaths that there will be movement in that regard.
Mugabe also returns as a sure drought is beginning to intensify and we hope he hits the ground running in trying to mitigate its effects.
Scientists had long projected that Southern Africa would be in the throes of an El Niño-induced drought, but not surprisingly Zimbabwe was caught on its heels, as there seems to be a dearth in visionary leadership in this country.
When Zimbabwe last had a drought of this magnitude, in 1992, the country was able to call on donors from across the world, but as we know with Mugabe at the helm, we have managed to exhaust all manner of goodwill from most of the world.
The country’s balance sheet was much better 24 years ago than it is now and the drought effort and response seemed to work, and Mugabe would be hard-pressed to ensure that his government is not caught flatfooted this time.
Another pressing issue is the electricity shortages that are set to worsen, with the situation getting bleaker with each passing week.
In 1996, Zimbabwe hosted a world summit on solar energy, yet 20 years down the line our use of solar is almost non-existent.
Bureaucrats are now scrambling to start solar power generation, as if they only discovered it yesterday.
It beggars belief why since 1980 the government has not invested significantly in the generation of electricity and now that the situation is worsening, we wonder what Mugabe’s plan would be. Not increasing tariffs, surely.
Then there’s the general joblessness. It would be expecting too much of Mugabe to solve it in one go, but the least he can is to be seen doing something.
Mugabe and his party, through their fantastical and jingoistic ZimAsset, promised two million jobs, but instead more people are out of employment now than when that policy document was first drawn up.
We could go on and on, but in a nutshell, what we would like to tell the President is that he has his work cut out for him.