HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF of “stealing” Christmas from the people.
Delivering his end of year address at the party’s Harvest House headquarters in the capital yesterday, Tsvangirai said Zanu PF had failed to deliver on the promises they made to the citizenry in the three months that they have been in office.
“I am fully aware that this is certainly going to be a bleak Christmas with little or nothing to share,” Tsvangirai said.
“The nation is in a dire state with indicators pointing to a nation on quick strides to the chaos and collapse of 2008.
“It is clear the current government stole Christmas from Zimbabweans. Hunger is stalking the nation while food and farming inputs are being distributed selectively and continue to be used as a political weapon.”
For most Zimbabweans, Santa Claus will be a World Food Programme (WFP) worker distributing a basin of emergency maize meal.
The MDC leader cited cash shortages as the main reason Zimbabweans will not have a decent Christmas.
“There is a serious liquidity crunch which has led to cash riots, including at a bank owned by a Zanu PF minister where riot police had to be brought in to silence the genuine demand by innocent civil servants who simply wanted their cash,” the former Prime Minister told the press briefing.
Tsvangirai also dismissed the $4,1billion national budget tabled before Parliament by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
“The illegitimate government yesterday presented what it called a budget at a time when the country has no money and revenue inflows are dwindling,” Tsvangirai said. “Presenting a deficit budget is the greatest crime anyone can ever commit to the country they serve.”
He said the “ambitious budget” was bizarre at a time government was drowning in debt.
“Chinamasa’s budget merely celebrated the collapse of the formal economy and did not address de-industrialisation,” he said. “It is enough proof of the incapacity of this government to move the country forward.
“To suggest that the economy will grow by 6, 1 percent is a mere fantasy while crafting a $4, 1 billion budget which is unfunded, stretches the patience of Zimbabweans too far.”
Experts say the $4, 1 billion budget failed to inspire confidence. The Finance minister himself admitted it was policy based and grossly short on funding. Of the $4 billion, $3, 5 billion will go towards recurrent expenditure- crowding out pressing needs- to do with economic revival.
The former Prime Minister alleged Zanu PF plagiarised MDC policies to craft its Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).
“The programme is a shoddy cut-and-paste job of some aspects of the mid-term policy, the Global Water Partnership and the MDC’s Agenda for Real Transformation. There is no clarity how this broke government will fund this policy programme,” he said.
“The clueless Zanu PF leadership is peddling a policy programme that it is calling ZimAsset when to all intends and purposes, it should actually be called ZimLiability.”
ZimAsset is a new economic blueprint drafted by the Zanu PF government meant to spearhead the turnaround and development of the economy over the next five years.
Analysts say Zimbabwe is known for crafting impressive economic blueprints that end up unimplemented. The country has come up with 14 economic blueprints since independence.
The former union leader also blasted Zanu PF for peddling “inaccurate unemployment statistics”, saying the stats were a “ludicrous insult” to the learned populace of Zimbabwe, whose literacy rate is more than 90 percent.
“This government announced shocking self-serving statistics which show the country as having an unemployment rate of only 11 percent, they told us that university graduates selling airtime are employed,” he said.
A survey shows that the majority of university students are unemployed, years after graduating.
At least 30 000 graduates are churned out from universities and tertiary colleges every year, according to the survey.