PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa dodged the question of the struggling Zimbabwe dollar in his keynote address at the 42nd Independence Day commemorations in Bulawayo yesterday.
The local currency is in the throes of high inflation, waning market confidence and is falling rapidly on the parallel market.
Inflation is at 72,7%, while the local currency is trading at $350 on the parallel market compared to $150 at the official auction market.
In his Independence Day speech, Mnangagwa steered clear of the emotive issue, and claimed that the economy was growing.
“In 2021, the economy grew by 7,4%, while in 2022, it is projected to grow by 5,5%, leveraging on the peaceful environment, increased production and productivity, infrastructural development, a buoyant mining sector as well as a recovering tourism and hospitality industry,” he said.
The President, who delivered his entire speech with little to no applause from a packed Barbourfields Stadium, has staked his re-election bid in next year’s general elections on infrastructural development projects, but has failed to tame inflation, falling wages and the weakening currency.
“In line with my administration’s determination to deliver inclusive development to the people, construction and rehabilitation of feeder roads, bridges, clinics, classroom blocks, and other social amenities have been undertaken within our local authorities. These are proving to be key enablers for increased economic activities and convenience, across all provinces, districts, and wards,” Mnangagwa said.
His speech showed that his ruling party’s campaign message for the 2023 general elections will focus on signature infrastructure projects and ignore the poorly performing currency.
This year, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) president Nelson Chamisa broke years of the opposition’s tradition of snubbing the Independence celebrations by sending party leaders to Bulawayo.
Chamisa was represented by interim party secretary-general Chalton Hwende and interim national organising secretary Amos Chibaya at the 42nd celebrations of independence.
Chamisa, who did not attend the Bulawayo celebrations, said CCC would be attending national events to foster national unity.
“We are a government in waiting and not a pressure group, we are sending a clear signal that these events are for everyone, they are national and a source of unity,” he said .
The opposition leader has been breaking with tradition to charm hardliners, especially the military and top government officials.
He also recently declared that the land reform would not be reversed and soldiers or the police won’t be fired once he assumes power.
Mnangagwa acknowledged the presence of CCC and other political opponents saying politics of the old should come to an end.
“As we celebrate 42 years of our country’s independence, let us never allow divisive tendencies, greed and the pursuit of unpatriotic self-centred political gains, to weaken our bond of unity, peace, love and harmony. Individually and collectively, we have a duty to wholeheartedly serve and work hard for the development and prosperity of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
Commemorations in Bulawayo, which were also attended by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and his children, were held in a colourful environment. Newsday