LEAD Response To SONA
9 October 2021

LEAD Response to SONA

8 October 2021

Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) appreciates the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President ED Mnangagwa yesterday.

We feel that some issues expressed were over exaggerated and thus we respond on the contentious issues raised by the SONA.

We applaud the efforts of road rehabilitation by the government and expect the project to be completed by mid 2022 all over Zimbabwe. Considering that Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, we expect commitment by government to prioritize Rail rehabilitation and restore NRZ to it’s former glory of a fast, efficient and affordable bulk transporter of goods in Zimbabwe.

Rail transport has the capacity to lure the much needed forex if the rail regulations are followed according to the book as was before. Government must desist from appointing political or military people into the rail sector who have no understanding whatsoever about the operations of the once economic giant organization in Zimbabwe.

Expansion of Robert Mugabe International airport and Joshua Nkomo airport is not a priority at the moment. Funds should be injected into the health sector to ensure quality healthcare for all Zimbabweans as enshrined in section 77 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.

For a country with nearly a quarter of the population suffering from chronic diseases priority should be allocation of funds to acquire state of the art machinery for public hospitals like CT scans, radiotherapy machines for cancer patients, dialysis machines, etc for all the referral public hospitals in Zimbabwe.

Commitment by Government of Zimbawe should be on ensuring affordable quality healthcare in all public health facilities and sufficient stock of drugs and essential medical supplies.

Government has collected AIDS levy for decades yet it has failed to ensure total implementation of the new curriculum of education since inception by introducing an education levy. Instead of expanding airports funds should be used to upgrade schools and investing in quality education of all students regardless of background or class in society.

Students in rural and Peri urban areas have been disenfranchised of quality education and prejudiced from knowledge of the new world fundamentals nowadays like ICT. The new curriculum of education made ICT a compulsory subject in primary and high school education yet no investment whatsoever has been made by government to ensure that every government school has a well equipped computer laboratory, qualified ICT teachers and Wifi.

Teachers have complained time and again about shortage and non availability of the new curriculum text books which is making their work a mammoth task. These are the issues we expected the Honorable President Mr. Mnangagwa to address yesterday as they are issues affecting real people and the future of Zimbabwe.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is good for the country. We reiterate that government should create an enabling environment for Local Direct Investment (LDI). The Ease of doing business should be afforded to local people instead of giving tax exemptions to foreigners who are already milking our country dry. Opportunities for wealth creation should be afforded to native grassroots Zimbabweans first.

President Mnangagwa stated that FOREX rates are stable and we must equivocally respond that, it was a slap in the face for the majority of Zimbabweans who have to endure exorbitant pricing of basic commodities which are pegged on the black market rate by both retailers and wholesalers in Zimbabwe.

The multi currency system has brought immense suffering to the ordinary Zimbabwean who can nolonger transact in local currency because government prefers USD to our local currency, fuel companies prefer to sell fuel in USD other than ZWL, property owners don’t want to be paid in local currency, healthcare providers use black market rate for local currency payments, in short every sector is pegging goods and services using the black market rate which means there is no FOREX stability at all.

The is the real state of the nation Mr President and we should desist from putting lipstick on a frog. Early this year we suggested that USD should be not be used for local transactions and as usual our suggestions fell on deaf ears because the government of the day is out of touch with the lived realities of ordinary Zimbabweans. To LEAD Mr President is to care for the livelihoods of the people you are in charge of as the President of this country. It has been 8 years since the new constitution was enacted and new, not so new, rather old constitution is not being observed as the supreme law of this land.

We honestly can’t speak of government being committed to aligning laws with the constitution of Zimbabwe 8 years later. The cabinet, Parliament and Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs are sleeping on laurels.

We demand the issue of alignment of laws to take precedence as a lot of people are being prejudiced by the inconsistent laws in this country. Indeed GMB must pay farmers on time. We condemn the paltry rates being paid by GMB to farmers and implore the relevant authorities to revise the rates of grains and stop shortchanging farmers.

Condemnation of drug abuse is not enough Mr President. The way forward to help and save our youth is to establish public and affordable drug rehabilitation centres in all the ten provinces to save our youth. Chrystal methamphetamine (Mutoriro) should be criminalized and made illegal as soon as yesterday.

Mutoriro is now a deadly pandemic in our country which has also increase crime rate as young people addicted to this deadly drug end up involved in crime to get funds to sustain this vice. Lastly, there is little effort to ensure gender balance .

Saying that government is committed to ensure gender equality is an understatement as it is not visible practically in all organs of the state, public sector, boards and parastatals. We demand gender equality to be a reality as it is a constitutional provision which should be adhered to. Mr President, your predecessor the late former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe left a legacy of educating Zimbabweans and taking back land.

What will be your legacy? What are you going to be remembered for? Make Zimbabwe comfortable for all Zimbabweans.

Restore the dignity of all workers and be sincere in curbing corruption which is an evil that has destroyed the economy and potential of our great nation.

Linda Tsungirirai Masarira

LEAD President