PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe had a lot to say about Bulawayo’s well-documented economic problems during his inauguration last Thursday describing the city as “a sorry industrial scrapyard”.
Southern Eye Editorial
Mugabe said the city’s industrial base had shrunk to being a scrapyard and said the water crisis bedevilling Bulawayo should be addressed.
He said although industries have collapsed countywide, Bulawayo’s industrial state was worrying.
Those who have been following the problem about the relocation of companies from Bulawayo to Harare that began over a decade ago would be have been taken aback by Mugabe’s remarks.
The perennial water shortages are also not a new phenomenon as people in the region have been talking about them for decades.
Who has forgotten Arnold Payne’s heroic act to push a wheelbarrow laden with a drum full of water from the Zambezi for more than 400km to Bulawayo in a desperate attempt to alert the government to the severity of the water problems in Matabeleland?
A foreigner listening to Mugabe’s speech would have been fooled to think that here was someone who appreciates the challenges besetting Bulawayo and could be trusted to find solutions.
However, Mugabe has been at the helm of this country for 33 years and policies of his successive governments are responsible for the sorry state of Bulawayo industry.
During his campaigns, Mugabe blamed the state of industry in Bulawayo on European Union and US sanctions.
Estimates say more than 100 companies have closed shop affecting more than 20 000 employees.
Further worsening Bulawayo’s plight is perennial water shortages affecting the city, with the local authority introducing a 72-hour water shedding regime per week.
On the water crisis, Mugabe said it was unacceptable for urban areas, particularly Bulawayo not to have continuous running water.
From the statements, it is quite clear that the Zanu PF leader and his party are in denial about the problems bedevilling the city and the economy at large.
Mugabe’s speech was bereft of solutions to the problems he clearly enunciated and this has been the hallmark of his presidency.
There is little to inspire confidence that Zanu PF has suddenly found answers to halt Bulawayo’s demise.