ZANU PF legislators have been praising President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), which painted a rosy picture of the country’s fortunes despite the deteriorating socio-economic environment.
This has been happening in the absence of opposition MPs who were slapped with a four-sitting ban for singing in protest at Mabvuku legislator Pedzai “Scott” Sakupwanya’s presence in Parliament after he was duly elected unopposed after the recalled opposition MP Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi was barred by the courts from seeking re-election on a Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) ticket.
A CCC activist who was campaigning for the hugely popular Kufahakutizwi, Bishop Tapfumaneyi Masaya, was abducted in broad daylight and murdered in cold blood.
His body was found days after his abduction in a state of decomposition. Zanu PF was accused for the abduction and subsequent murder of Bishop Masaya. Zanu PF gold baron Sakupwanya — who is also linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his sons, was sworn in in December, after winning uncontested in the Mabvuku by-election that was necessitated by controversial recalls by the opposition CCC imposter secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.
Mnangagwa delivered his Sona on 3 October last year while opening the 10th Parliament which was flagged by critics for painting a rosy picture of the country’s worsening economic crisis.
For instance, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s elections were free, fair and flawless, contrary to reports by key international observer missions including the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Election Observer Mission, the Carter Centre, the Commonwealth and the European Union Electoral Observer Mission (EUEOM) which condemned the polls for being riddled with serious shortcomings.
It was the first time a Zimbabwean election was comprehensively condemned by Sadc. The Sadc Election Observer Mission led by former Zambian vice-president Nevers Mumba compiled a forthright assessment, angering the Mnangagwa administration.
Mnangagwa also sensationally claimed that Zimbabwe’s mining industry has surpassed its ambitious US$12 billion target set for 2023, which is contrary to latest statistics by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat) which show that the mining industry has been trailing the wholesale and retail sectors in terms of contribution to the country’s gross domestic product.
Of the top five contributors, mining with a 13.2% contribution has been trailing behind wholesale and retail trade with 18.7% out of a total GDP of ZW$12.388 trillion in 2022.
The supposed mining sector accomplishments, as alluded to by Mnangagwa during his Sona delivery, have been disputed by economist Professor Gift Mugano.
“We want government to be transparent about the figures. Our size of the economy is small. That is why you see that we have a US$20 billion which has not been growing over time. The challenge about the economic growth issues in Zimbabwe and sectoral contributions to the economy have been characterised by misinformation,” Mugano told The NewsHawks last year.
“You cannot say that agriculture achieved US$8.5 billion. If I would like to follow the growth rate argument, it means the mining sector forms our GDP and nothing else. We do not want to dwell on the exact size of the economy but we want to say these figures are not correct.” Mugano added:
“Because we just take two sectors, the mining sector with US$12 billion and agriculture with US$8.5 billion. Are we saying that is the economy? Where is manufacturing? Where is the services sector? In actual sense, the services sector constitutes 60%. The other sectors are supposed to share the remaining 40%, but if two of the sectors give you the size of the whole economy, does it make sense?”
However, notwithstanding this, Zanu PF MPs fell over each other in Parliament this week, praising Mnangagwa on delivery on the economic front, the supposed successes in health delivery and the manner in which the general elections were conducted.
Dorothy Mashonganyika, a Zanu PF proportional representation MP for Mashonaland Central, said: “I would like to begin by expressing my heartfelt congratulations to our esteemed President for his victory in the 2023 harmonised elections. The peaceful and fair manner in which these elections were conducted is a testament to our President’s leadership and his genuine concern for the people of Zimbabwe.”
“I would also like to commend the government of Zimbabwe and its citizens for their contribution to these fair and harmonised elections. Furthermore, the President’s address shed light on the state of our healthcare delivery system.”
Mashonganyika also said the government is on the right trajectory on providing accessible healthcare for all Zimbabweans.
“As a nation, we have faced numerous challenges in improving accessible and quality health for all citizens. However, the government’s commitment to revitalising our health sector is encouraging. The increased investment in healthcare infrastructure, training of medical professionals and provision of essential medication as announced by the President is a step in the right direction,” she said.
However, this is despite the healthcare sector’s continuous deterioration. The health sector was allocated about 10.8% of the total budget, a decline from 11.2% allocated last year, which however falls below the Abuja Declaration target of 15%.
Findings by the latest report by acting Auditor-General Rheah Kujinga on state-owned parastatals for the year ended 31 December 2022 showed that the country’s largest referral hospital, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, was operating with an aged vehicle fleet of 16 vehicles, with only four functioning.
The report also showed that Parirenyatwa has been operating without analysing tools for maintenance and calibration of medical equipment to ensure safe and effective use in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients.
In June last year, the parliamentary portfolio committee on health also revealed the state of dereliction of Zimbabwe’s healthcare facilities, after it emerged that radiotherapy cancer treatment machines at Mpilo Central Hospital — purchased by the taxpayer for US$2 million — have not functioned for four years because central government has not bought spares worth US$80 000.
The chairperson of the committee, Dr Ruth Labode, described the negligence and dereliction of duty as “sad”. Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo is a referral institution serving patients from Bulawayo and the entire Matabeleland region.
A public resource management situation report by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) released in June last year showed that only a paltry 4% of 57 districts surveyed have good healthcare facilities, with the majority (85%) reporting poor medical facilities.
This week, Barbra Thompson, a youth quota legislator for Rushinga, also praised Mnangagwa for the presidential borehole initiative, which she claimed has helped curb a cholera outbreak in her area.
“Your re-election signifies the faith placed in your ability to lead the sheep of our nation through these challenging times,” Thompson said.
“The President’s dedication to this vision is exemplified by initiatives such as the Presidential boreholes schemes, a commendable effort to drill 35 000 boreholes across the country. In particular, I applaud the foresight of these initiatives recognising their potential to enhance water, sanitation, and hygiene service delivery.”
Last year, Zimbabwe was named among the world’s poorest nations by Global Finance Magazine, falling from being the most industrialised nation in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa in 1980, and now placed among the top 20 poorest countries in the world — ranking 17th.
Out of those 20 countries, 17 are from Africa, while three are from the Middle East and two are from the Oceania region in the central and south Pacific Ocean respectively.
South Sudan is the poorest country in Africa; Nepal in Asia; Papua New Guinea in Oceania; Haiti in North America; Venezuela in South America and Ukraine in Europe.