DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Your Excellency, as I see it, despite winding the year with national prayer, it was apparent that 2022 was a depressing year, through and through. It was characterised by hardships owing to the incessant rise of the cost of living.
A report presented in November by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) revealed a surge in poverty levels. It showed that the monthly amount of feeding one person had risen to slightly under Z$30 000.
Most families doddered through the year underfed. Essentially, the generality of citizenry are malnourished, living on less than a dollar a day. Indeed, three square meals per day are beyond their means. It is not merely poetic that the poor taste meat only when they bite their tongues.
Amid the soaring basic cost of living on the backdrop of the free-falling local currency, incidents of armed robberies spiked to unprecedented levels. It became a widely committed crime that even members of the uniformed forces were also involved.
Your Excellency, it was in the wake of an upsurge in gun-related crimes that it became imperative for you to extend an olive branch to unlicensed gun holders. It had reached chronic levels that you issued the reactionary amnesty.
Methinks, Zimbabwe is stuck in an economic morass. Ever since the disposal of the late former President Robert Mugabe, the year-on-year review of the economy is devoid of the commensurate gains accruing from his military-orchestrated removal.
There could not have been an apt portrayal of the heartfelt woes of citizenry than the plea of incapacitation by the public service workforce. It stemmed from extreme destitution that the public sector employees cried out on bowed down heads and bended knees to government.
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Yet, their whole-hearted petitions fell on an impudent heart. Despite that public servants earn an average equivalent of US$50, it was a deadly blow when Finance minister Mthuli Ncube ruled out possibilities of an increase on their salaries.
Your Excellency, even government ministries and State institutions have also raised the red flag on incapacitation. Speaking before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs, Deputy Commissioner-General of police Elliot Ngarande described the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) budget allocation as measly, not sufficient to meet administration and operations costs.
He whimpered: “The allocated amount is not sufficient to meet all the planned expenditure for the police service operational and administrative requirements associated with policing elections, dealing with increasing crimes of passion and the general constitutional mandate of the police.”
He underscored that the paltry allocation impacted negatively on the police initiatives towards the achievement of the National Development Strategy 1.
His concerns were similarly raised by the Foreign Affairs and International Relations ministry. It was stated that its allocation would only last six months.
There is an apparent dark cloud hovering over the country which is threatening the basics of civility. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is also complaining of inadequate funding. As I see it, the said new dispensation is an apt case of Murphy's Law: anything that can go wrong went wrong.
Your Excellency, in its report on the March by-elections, the electoral body complained that it was inadequately resourced, hence failure to even pay election agents. “Personnel recruited for electoral activities need to be paid allowances on time. Further, allowances payable per day should be compensatory to keep election officers motivated,” read the Zec report.
With the public examination markers also complaining of poor remuneration, inadequate funding of government departments and State institutions is a peculiar thread that runs throughout your administration. As I see it, inadequate funding is your government’s Achilles heel.
Granted, 2022 ended on a depressing note. It was a year that left a bitter taste in the mouths of all citizenry. It will go down in the annals of history as characterised by poor governance, prompting hardships galore like poor electricity supply and high cost of living. Added to these woes is the mutilation of the Constitution that curtailed freedoms taken for granted by citizenry of bona fide democratic countries.
Your Excellency, the country is in a crisis. There is anxiety and desperation on citizenry, with the exodus of nationals to other countries on the increase. As hordes pursue greener pastures elsewhere, they are voting with their feet — a condemnation of your Presidency.
Methinks, the embarrassment ought to have largely been on you when a Limpopo Provincial Member of the Executive Council Phophi Ramathuba denigrated a Zimbabwean woman who was seeking medical attention from a South African hospital. Also, the blood of Elvis Nyathi who was burnt to ashes in a xenophobic attack in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, in April, cries in your hands.
As I see it, you stand where President Franklin Roosevelt stood during the great depression. He had faith in the American people to rescue themselves from the economic downturn. He led from the front, inspiring citizenry that, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
He showed indomitable conviction American people were capable of rescuing themselves from the economic challenge. Yet, to the contrary, you blame sanctions, the opposition and all and sundry except yourself. Essentially, game-changers take responsibility.
As I see it, the greatness of a President is not merely in catchphrases, but in strategic responses in times of crisis. Duly, the new year is the opportunity for you to refrain from blaming the socio-economic instability on others.
Your Excellency, it behooves you to emulate the scriptural invalid who was ordered by Jesus to pick up his mat and walk. Methinks, your tendency of blaming third parties for the socio-economic meltdown is not the hallmark of Statemanship.
- Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist.