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Mnangagwa feels heat over economy

by Staff reporter
16 Dec 2018 at 14:04hrs | Views
With Zimbabwe's economy continuing to tank - and long-suffering citizens now desperate for some respite - President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday told thousands of Zanu-PF delegates gathered in Esigodini for the party's annual conference that their focus must be solely on coming up with solutions to stem the rot.

He also vowed that his government would do everything in its power to turn the country's burning economy around - an untenable situation which he readily admitted was causing immense suffering for Zimbabweans.

At the same time, Mnangagwa reminded the assembled ruling party bigwigs that elected officials were servants of those people who had voted them into power.

However, the Zanu-PF leader 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".

Mnangagwa's address to his followers came as Zimbabwe has remained in the grip of a mega 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 Zimbabwe that the polls would bury many of the problems that were encountered during the ruinous rule of ousted former president Robert Mugabe.

"This conference is being held against the backdrop of an economy which is characterised by fuel shortages, high cost of drugs, medicines, farming inputs and fertilisers, as well as a wide range of basic commodities.

"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.

"The onus is upon us to come up with key economic resolutions. Our country has immense potential to grow our economy in various sectors such as mining and agriculture," Mnangagwa said yesterday.

"We also need to address the question of our own domestic currency, once the correct economic fundamentals are in place," he added.

The 76 year-old Zanu-PF strongman spoke as doctors continued with their strike which has paralysed public health institutions in the last three weeks, as they 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," he said.

The striking doctors are also protesting the severe shortages of pharmaceutical drugs at public hospitals - as well as the selling of available drugs in foreign currency by retail pharmacies, the poor state of the country's hospital infrastructure, in addition to their "falling" salaries which they now want the government to pay in foreign currency.

Zimbabwe's health delivery system has for a while now been battling myriad 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 consumers 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 yesterday announced that he would next 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.

Source - dailynews

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