Zanu PF bigwigs who gathered in Esigodini for their party’s annual conference last week pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to act quickly and decisively to stem the country’s worsening economic rot and corruption, in the interests of long-suffering Zimbabweans and social cohesion.
In their end of conference resolutions at the weekend, which were read by politburo member Chris Mushowe, the gathered party heavyweights also urged the government to stop insisting that the US dollar and the country’s surrogate currency, the bond, were equal — as they felt that this was harming the economy.
“There is a de facto exchange rate even though the government has said there is parity between US dollars and bond notes.
“Government should also eradicate the three-tier pricing system that is causing suffering among Zimbabweans … The government should revoke the licences of those charging the three-tier pricing system.
“Government also seems to be paying lip service to economic malpractices. Government should act and deal with those involved,” Mushowe said.
This came after Mnangagwa himself had earlier admitted that his government was battling to fix the country’s myriad economic problems, as manifested by the continually rising prices of basic goods and the acute shortages of foreign currency and fuel — among many other ills.
However, the Zanu PF leader said, his government was working hard to try and solve the multiple crises.
“Government, along with industry, continues to dialogue and interrogate the cost build-ups, towards finding lasting solutions which will bring permanent relief to consumers and greater stability to the economy.
“We also need to address the question of our own domestic currency once the correct economic fundamentals are in place,” he said.
With Zimbabwe’s economy continuing to tank — and long-suffering citizens desperate for some respite — Mnangagwa also told the thousands of Zanu PF delegates gathered in Esigodini that their focus must be solely on coming up with solutions to stem the rot.
At the same time, he reminded the assembled ruling party bigwigs that elected officials were servants of those people who had voted them into power — and not the other way round.
He also, once again, ruled out any chance of him forming a government of national unity (GNU) with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa — whom he said he had defeated “cleanly and fairly”.
The party’s conference took place against the backdrop of Zimbabwe remaining in the grip of a ginormous economic crisis, which has continued despite the country holding relatively peaceful elections on July 30.
It had been hoped by many people inside and outside the country that the polls would bury many of the problems that had been encountered during the ruinous rule of ousted former president Robert Mugabe.
The conference also took place in the midst of a damaging strike by public sector doctors, which has paralysed public health institutions in the past three weeks — as they continue to press for improved wages and working conditions.
“We are seized with the challenges in our health services sector. We appeal to those in the health services sector to always balance between matters of their welfare and the need to save lives.
“We noted that drugs are now in short supply and we are setting up NatPharm pharmacies in all provinces and prices of drugs will be affordable. We urge those in the health sector to be considerate,” Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has for a while now been battling several problems as a result of the country’s worsening economic climate.
Apart from the urgent issue of the striking doctors, long-suffering Zimbabweans have also had to contend with rising prices of basic consumer goods and widespread shortages of items such as cooking oil — which have disappeared from supermarket shelves.
Thousands of commuters have also had their travel plans thrown into chaos, due to the current fuel shortages being experienced in the country.
As a result, Mnangagwa has come under growing pressure from disillusioned citizens over the worsening local economic situation — after having been feted in his early days in office for superintending over arguably the most peaceful elections since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980.
However, the government’s recent austerity measures — which are seen as the first steps towards reviving the country’s economy — have not found resonance with the majority of hurting Zimbabweans.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa also announced in Esigodini that he would this week make public the findings of the commission of inquiry that he appointed to probe the deadly August 1 violence which left at least six people dead in Harare.
The shootings commission, which was chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, handed over its findings to Mnangagwa two weeks ago — surprising many people in the process for the speed with which it had completed its work.
Apart from Motlanthe — other members of the inquiry were academics Lovemore Madhuku and Charity Manyeruke, Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) ex-president Vimbai Nyemba, Rodney Dixon of the United Kingdom, former Tanzanian chief of the defence forces General Davis Mwamunyange and ex-Commonwealth secretary-general Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria.
Political analysts have also said the August 1 violence and the resultant deaths had done a lot of harm to Mnangagwa’s quests to mend years of frosty relations between Zimbabwe and Western governments.
The shootings occurred after millions of Zimbabweans had cast their votes in the polls to choose both a new Parliament and president — following the dramatic fall from power of Mugabe last November.
The elections were the first since 1980 to be held in the country without Mugabe’s participation, whose 37-year, iron-fisted rule was stunningly ended by a military intervention which triggered events that ended with his resignation.
The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle against colon cancer on Valentine’s Day this year.