It was arrogance at its worst. Or could Cde Mugabe be losing it? Without in any way trying to denigrate the country’s Head of State, what President Mugabe did on December 9 is mind-boggling. And calls into question whether he still has any advisors at all, and if so whether he listens to them or not.
His tenth State of the Nation address, planned or unplanned, was really bad timing. One would even go further and say it was in bad taste.
When people in Harare, particularly those who had been tear-gassed and those who had stayed at home and heard the news about the violence in the city, heard that President Mugabe was going to address the nation at 2.30, most sat glued to their sets with high expectations that he would say something that would stop the violence and bring calm to the nation and halt the economic slide the country was facing.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange’s key industrial index, the country’s economic barometer had slipped some 38 percent since the beginning of the year. The mining index was down 70 percent. The dollar was sliding despite government’s measures to bail it out.
Yet, there President Mugabe was giving a glowing picture of things to come: savings to grow to 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product (what happened to the 30 percent), growth to rise to 7 percent (from this year’s 3.7 percent and an average of 1.8 percent over the past six years), budget deficit to fall below 5 percent ( from an average of 10 percent).
He even said Zimprest was already being implemented under the long-term Vision 2020. (This must provide some homework for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which organised the successful demonstrations as it appears they have been left behind.)
In fact, people must be excused for asking: What country he was talking about as they listened to the national address. One even quipped: “How could he call it the state of the nation address when there was no mention of the fact that the nation was on fire?”.
But this should not have surprised a lot of people. President Mugabe has of late been making such political blunders that some people now believe that he no longer seems to care about what happens to the nation as long as he clings on to power. It is a pity that such a dynamic and charismatic leader in his heydays in the 1980s should not realise that things are falling apart.