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President Mugabe Rebuked for Claims Zim Was Africa’s Second Most Developed Country

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has invited scorn from political opponents and ordinary Zimbabweans who accuse the veteran leader of misrepresenting facts by claiming that his country was second only to South Africa in terms of development on the continent.

Mugabe said this Thursday during a panel discussion on fragile states at the World Economic Forum for Africa underway in Durban. He had been challenged to give his opinion on whether he felt his country was also among the continent’s failed States.

Put in a corner, President Mugabe said, with a laugh, that his country enjoyed over 90 percent literacy, has 14 universities and was blessed with bumper harvests in maize and tobacco.

Mugabe also denied his failed leadership has reduced the country to a fragile State.

However, Zimbabweans were quick to express strong disapproval for their leader with opponents saying he was in denial over the damage his failed policies have brought to the once prosperous country.

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MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu

"We are not too sure whether President Mugabe is living in the real Zimbabwe that most of us are living in or perhaps, he is living in his own world of make believe," MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Thursday.

"It’s not surprising, however, that Mugabe made those kinds of remarks because him and members of his family, including members of the ruling elite, are cushioned from the hardships that the majority of Zimbabweans are facing on a daily basis; ranging from lack of cash, lack of jobs and a generally depressed economic environment in which all businesses are suffering.

"To say that Zimbabwe is a fragile state is actually an understatement."

Near 100% unemployment
Gutu cited as among the main indicators of the country’s failed status, over 90 percent unemployment with public hospitals forced to run without basic medicine.

He added: "We are now a basket case, thanks to decades of Zanu PF misrule, rampant corruption and unprecedented dereliction of governmental responsibility."

Opponents say social services remain poor with many local authorities failing to provide running water to households.

Millions have been forced to seek greener pastures abroad while a great many of those who chose to remain have to endure grinding poverty.

A country has gone for more nearly a decade without its domestic currency while citizens have to queue for long hours outside banking halls to access cash through their bank accounts.

PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume also slammed the 93-year-old leader was out of touch with reality.

Mafume said if bumper harvests were a basis for national development, Zambia would in fact be way ahead of her troubled southern neighbour as the copper-producing country now realised bigger crop yields because of the expertise brought by white Zimbabwean farmers who were dislodged from their land during Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform process.

Gropping in the dark

"The country is jobless, the railways do not run, the single aeroplane is for his (Mugabe) use alone, people run away from such to other developed countries," Mafume said.

Political analyst and publisher Ibbo Mandaza said Mugabe should use universally accepted benchmarks to gauge development as opposed to groping in the dark.

"He is stuck in the early 1980s and is an embarrassment to Zimbabwe in full view of the global community. So sad!" he said.

Other locals took to social media to condemn the President for his comments.

During the panel discussion, Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima, who was also participating in the panel on the theme of failed states, said that oppressive leaders were to blame for the continent’s challenges.

"Our leaders say we are rich, they say we are developed, they say we have resources but the people do not see that. They clamp down on freedom of the media and the rights of people," she said.

"Let us give others a chance, it is important that we have elections that are free and fair - that reflect the will of the people, that is at the heart of governance."

Mugiejo A

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