By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, riding a wave of anger against the ruling Zanu PF over increasing economic hardships, took his battle to President Robert Mugabe’s citadel on Saturday, unveiling self-help projects to help villagers.
The MDC is seeking to uproot Zanu PF’s dominance in rural areas and has embarked on projects like drip irrigation and poultry projects, which will be unfurled to all rural areas.
The former prime minister told voters to send the ruling party packing for its broken promises, including failing to deliver the two million jobs.
He said he has had to intervene to save the people from the effects of the economic meltdown.
Tsvangirai, in the latest leg of a rebuilding campaign after a devastating electoral loss to Mugabe last July, took his campaign to the heartland of Mugabe’s support in Mhondoro-Ngezi, which is under Zanu PF legislator Mike Gava, breaking a tradition in which top politicians stay off each other’s home turfs.
Such has been the intensity of the campaign and the hostility between Tsvangirai and Mugabe in the wake of last year’s poll which he insists was rigged that he did not spare the 90-year-old veteran and his ruling party criticism on their appalling economic stewardship.
He told party supporters at Mamina Business Centre in Mhondoro-Ngezi that the biggest question today was: “Where are the jobs?”
“We are starting self-help programmes, toda kuti chinja vanhu vachidya (We want to do political slogans while the people are eating),” Tsvangirai said.
“Nyika yedu yasvika panguva yakaoma. Zvatibvisa chimiro. Rwava rwumbo (Our country is now in a crisis, we have lost dignity. The economic hardships are now a daily song). Kunzi baba rangova zita asi chavanouya nacho kumba hapana. (Fathers can no longer take care of their families). Munhu atipinza murwiyo urwu ndiMugabe neZanu PF (The author of this crisis is Mugabe and Zanu PF).”
Since romping to a controversial poll victory last year, Mugabe’s government has been faced with a daunting and deepening economic crisis that has resulted in an unprecedented industrial contraction, job losses and a biting liquidity crunch.
Now the greenback, the country’s legal tender, is hard to get for ordinary Zimbabweans, most of them living on less than a dollar a day.
The rural population, which lives primarily on subsistence farming and remittances from relatives in urban areas and the Diaspora, has been the hardest hit by the liquidity crunch.
Despite the fact that Mhondoro-Ngezi lies in a resource-rich region, many villagers are wallowing in abject poverty. The platinum-rich enclave has consistently voted for Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, using his economic record as prime minister during the inclusive government, sought to drive home his advantage while seeking to regain lost ground.
He accused the ruling party of “looting” the country’s resources and allowing rural areas to go to rack and ruin. He vowed to transform the area if he gets an exclusive mandate and make it a model for others to follow.
The ex-premier said the reason why he is now talking about the vibrancy of the economy during the Rhodesian era is because of the social and economic problems now bedevilling the country.
He has been roundly criticised in the State media for reminiscing about the days he used to get inebriated on £1 during the 70s glory days.
“Kana tichitaura nyaya iyi yeRhodesia ndezvekuti where are the industries, where are the mines, where are the farms? That is the argument. If there are no jobs in towns, we have to create them here (in rural areas),” Tsvangirai said.
“We are stuck with an albatross called Robert Mugabe closeted at the State House and does not know what is happening around him.”
Hardships in rural communities have resulted in increased urbanisation as youths seek employment opportunities in urban areas, where jobs are hard to get. Daily News