President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe delivered his State of the Nation address Tuesday, in a short speech that skimmed atop the surface of the country’s spiraling economic and political challenges.
In Harare, the 92-year-old Mugabe spoke for just 28 minutes while addressing parliament in a chamber that frequently burst into laughter and occasionally seemed just as interested in its side conversations.
Apart from the mention of microfinance programs and land-use policies to support youth and women in particular, and an appeal for calm amidst Zimbabwe’s economic challenges, the faltering Mugabe failed to address the bond note-currency crisis, high unemployment rate or growing concern on human rights.
“Let me conclude by paying tribute to our peace-loving people who have endured all manner of economic hardships,” Mugabe said toward the end of his short but halting address. “I wish to commend them for their resilience and urge them to cherish the peace and tranquility that continues to be the envy of many. Let us continue to find national pride in our core values of unity, hard work and freedom.”
Yet Mugabe offered no solid proposals for solutions and revealed no real plans for economic fixes, while instead focusing on small gains in public health, housing and a focus on STEM education in schools. The president also highlighted improved power supply, noting that Zimbabweans have experienced fewer episodes of load shedding disruptions in 2016, in part because of an increase in regional imports.
“Government is also working on increasing local power generation to close the local power production deficit,” Mugabe said.
While there was no mention of increased transparency amid Zimbabwe’s endless battles against corruption, including his Zanu PF party, he said the government is reforming its roles with an eye on efficiency.
“The resulting effect would be leaner with flatter structures that are economic and thus enhance effective quality service delivery,” the president said.
Mugabe also appealed to the faithful for prayers that it might rain amid the severe drought and growing humanitarian crisis, and ended with a holiday greeting to all Zimbabweans.
Image: AP File Photo