Despite the fact that most people in Zimbabwe have to resort to being vendors due to escalating economic hardships, President Robert Mugabe, 91, reportedly maintained last week that there was “no suffering” in his country.
Mugabe, who was addressing a Zanu-PF women’s league meeting in Harare, seemed to deny that most Zimbabweans were reeling under extreme poverty, saying the land they got from his controversial land reform programme was enough to cater for their survival.
“But what is it that the people are suffering from? Didn’t we give them land?” the nonagenarian was quoted as saying.
According to New Zimbabwe.com, Mugabe said this as he revealed his row with former defence forces chief, Solomon Mujuru, who was killed when an unexplained fire razed his farm house in 2011.
Mujuru, a veteran of the liberation war, was regarded as one of the most influential and wealthiest figures in the southern African country.
Observers considered him a kingmaker within Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party. Mujuru was reportedly pushing for his wife, Joice Mujuru – who was kicked out of Zanu-PF last year – to become the country’s leader after Mugabe.
Many questions regarding Mujuru’s death remain unanswered, amid suspicion he was assassinated.
In his address to the women’s league, Mugabe claimed Mujuru wanted to oust him after deciding that his (Mugabe’s) policies were destroying the country and that people could not “suffer because of one man”.
Mugabe said Mujuru wanted him out because he felt the veteran leader’s policies were blocking investment and that “…the country cannot be held back by one person, people cannot suffer because of one man”.
Mugabe then questioned how Mujuru could say people were suffering when they had been given land.
Several people took to social media on Monday, as they reacted to Mugabe’s remarks, with a prominent law expert Alex Magaisa posting on Twitter: “That which has horns has a nasty habit of refusing to be concealed. One day the tongue will slip irreversibly.”
Mugabe and Zanu-PF launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
Mugabe at the time said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.