President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday told angry Zimbabweans to “eat vegetables and not meat” when they told him that the economic situation in the country is forcing them to live from hand to mouth.
Mnangagwa made these remarks in Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb while conducting part of his National Cleanup Campaign.
Irate locals drowned his voice with angry chants, saying instead of conducting the cleanup exercise, he should be fixing the current economic decay gripping the nation, once considered southern Africa’s breadbasket.
Responding to people’s concerns on high meat prices, Mnangagwa said, “…Ahh! Meat! How about vegetables? Doctors recommend that people should eat vegetables,” he said amid grumblings from the crowd, adding, “doctors want you to eat vegetables so that you will be healthy, meat is not good for you …”
When the people expressed their dismay over his remarks, Mnangagwa noted that “… I think I beg to differ. I listen to doctors and that’s why I eat vegetables.”
Some people in the crowd demanded that the government should also force companies to reduce mealie meal prices.
Mnangagwa promised to take action on so-called unscrupulous people who were selling mealie meal above the set price of 50 Zimbabwe dollars for a 10 kilogram bag.
“… If there are some unscrupulous business people who are not following the law, we will end up withdrawing licences of the people who are not following the law and this will force them to lose their businesses.”
He said the government is subsidizing mealie meal prices in order to cushion Zimbabweans from the current harsh economic situation in the country.
In response to Mnangagwa’s remarks, Kuwadzana East Member of Parliament, Charlton Hwende, said the president’s reaction to people’s sentiments was an indication that “he is out of touch with what is happening in Zimbabwe.”
The angry residents also indicated that they are facing severe cash shortages, power outages and other challenges.
In his response, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe will not revert to the multiple currency system, which observers say was far much better than the current mix of local currencies.