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ZIMBABWE is now one of the poorest countries in Africa because President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party have destroyed relations with countries that matter, an opposition leader has said.

Writing in his weekly commentary on “bread and butter issues”, MDC leader Welshman Ncube said little has come from Mugabe’s much-vaunted ties with so-called all-weather friends in the East.

“The tragedy is that President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party ruling party have destroyed friendship with countries that matter,” wrote Ncube.

“They talk of ‘mega deals’ signed with Russia, China and South Africa.

“Their partisan State-controlled media ‘pollutes’ our ears daily with propaganda of ‘successful’ trips made by President Mugabe with large delegations to remote parts of the planet, yet hundreds of companies close every month and 90% of Zimbabwean adults do not have secure jobs.”

Zimbabwe is battling an economic crisis that has lasted 15 years and driven more than a million people across the borders as economic refugees.

Mugabe insists he can liverage the country’s assumed mineral wealth to end the economic crisis as well as fire recovery and growth.

But Ncube said: “It does not matter how endowed or rich a country is its development agenda cannot be complete without friends.

“International friendship is critical for us all. It is the capillary, the umbilical cord through which crucial financial, technical and trade support flows to any country, especially poor countries like Zimbabwe.”

Mugabe, once revered and honoured in the West during his earlier years at the helm of the country, has since fallen out of favour with erstwhile friends there.

He is now banned from travelling to cities such as London, once a favourite destination of his.

Western countries have slapped the 91-year-old leader with debilitating sanctions, accusing him of running down Zimbabwe’s economy, engaging human rights violations and brutalising political opponents.

Mugabe, who claims he is being vilified for his land reforms, has responded by turning East and seeking closer ties with countries like China which he described as an “all weather friend” as well as Russia.

But Ncube, who was industry minister in the fractious coalition government, said political tension and bickeirng in Zanu PF over Mugabe’s succesion undermined Zimbabwe’s prospects as a destination for international investors.

“Even Zanu PF apparatchiks like Walter Mzembi have complained that political bickering in his party is anathema to tourism.

“Former Zanu PF legislator and land invader Temba Mliswa now confesses how violent his party is in elections,” he said.

Ncube also railed against African countries for showering praises on Mugabe when Zimbabweans were wallowing in poverty.

“Long speeches in Addis Ababa, New York, Jakarta and Moscow do not get us true friendship at the global stage and certainly do not put food on our tables or clean drinking water in our taps or electricity in our houses and factories,” he said.

“Hate language does not increase beds in our children’s dormitories or books in our college libraries.

“Our leaders’ primitive, spiteful arrogance does not open more export markets or keep our tourist destinations busy.”

Source : New Zimbabwe