Is there anyone out there who could lend Bob a few bob?
Zimbabwe you see is not just a broken country, largely because of the antics of President Robert Mugabe and his cronies over the last 33 years, it is also financially broke, again. Not just a little broke. The country has defaulted on its debts and according to the country’s finance minister, the independent and sovereign state of Zimbabwe has $217 left in its public bank account.
Not $217 million, in case you misread that, just $217, or Sh18,455. That was all that was left in the coffers last week after civil servants and public workers were paid at the end of the month.
ASKING DONORS FOR CASH
Finance Minister Tendai Biti told journalists gathered in Harare that some civil servants had a better bank balance than the state! “We will be approaching the international community”, he said, and asking donors for cash.
One can imagine that the ‘donors’ might be reluctant to help but the problem is that the lack of money could delay the referendum on Zimbabwe’s new constitution and the next election, both of which are due next year and will cost in the region of $104 million to hold.
REFORMS NOT IN PLACE – HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, have cast serious doubt as to whether a free and fair election could be held in Zimbabwe in the timescale allotted. The global rights body reports the reforms needed to hold a credible and violence-free poll are well behind schedule and may not be in place in time for the election. Until that those changes are made, repressive legislation remains in place.
Not that Bob Mugabe has in the past seemed too concerned about holding free and fair elections. Zimbabwe’s aged president (he will be 89 this month) has clung on to power by hook, crook, gun, cosh and machete, wheeling out the so-called ‘veterans’, or deploying the notorious North Korean-trained 5th Brigade. It would be an optimist indeed who thinks this particular leopard will change his spots now.
10 MORE YEARS?
Even the country’s new proposed constitution would allow Mugabe to stay in power for another 10 years if elected (and Bob knows how to arrange ‘elected’) but President Bob may even have his eye on greater things than the mere presidency of his country.
AFRICA’S PRESIDENT MUGABE?
Speaking to journalists last Tuesday after a meeting with African Union (AU) and Benin President Boni Yaya, Mugabe said of the idea of a president for Africa: “Yes, we need one. We are not there yet. This is what we must go and discuss”.
GO BOB, GO
In a well-worded editorial on Friday The Standard declared that, ‘In many ways President Robert Mugabe is the architect of Zimbabwe’s woes’ under the headline, ‘It’s time for Robert Mugabe to retire’.
The Kenya Forum agrees. Robert Mugabe has been a disaster for his country. For many years he has headed a criminal regime. He is an embarrassment to the peoples of Africa. He should go. But the referendum and elections will have to be funded. For the sake of Zimbabwe, Africa, democracy and freedom, the ‘donors’ will have to dip into their pockets one more time, however galling that may be.