Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, sat slumped in his chair, wringing his hands, as he told a panel discussion yesterday in a low murmur that his country was not a fragile state.
Mugabe’s government is struggling with a debt crisis, a fall in foreign exchange inflows, and acute shortages of cash that have forced banks to limit withdrawals, as well as growing resistance to his threedecade rule.
But he told a panel discussion on fragile countries at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Durban that Zimbabwe’s economy was on the mend.
“Zimbabwe is one of the most highly developed countries, second after South Africa,” he said.
“You cannot even talk about us as a fragile state from an economic point of view.” Critics have accused Mugabe of wrecking one of Africa’s most promising economies and causing unemployment of about 80% through policies such as the violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms.
“This year we will have a bumper harvest. Not just maize, we have cotton and tobacco . . . we are not a poor country,” Mugabe said.
Despite numerous protests against his leadership, he said many people still supported his government.
“Economies cannot grow as quickly as our people expect them to. Investment should have come long ago.”
He is due to lead his Zanu-PF party as its candidate for the next presidential election, expected in mid-2018.