By Tendai Mugabe in Lusaka, Zambia
Zimbabweans should give President Mnangagwa a chance to fully implement his economic vision by voting for him in the forthcoming harmonised elections, prominent Zambian politician Dr Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has said.
Dr Mwaanga is a former Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister and also once served as Minister of Information, including serving as director-general of the Southern African country’s intelligence services.
He is famed for being appointed as Zambia’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1965 at the age of 21.
Two years later, he was deployed as permanent secretary in the Office of the President.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Herald on Friday, Dr Mwaanga, who is commonly known here as Dr VJ, said President Mnangagwa was a practical person who could transform Zimbabwe economically if given a full mandate.
He said during the few months that President Mnangagwa has been in office, he had implemented several policies, pointing to a great future for Zimbabwe.
“I have a feeling that once given his own mandate, he will then be able to form a Government which will reflect his own vision about the future of Zimbabwe,” said Dr Mwaanga.
“He (President Mnangagwa) kept repeating to me that my brother VJ, Zimbabwe is open for business. I keep a close eye on what is happening in Zimbabwe and I think once free, fair and credible elections are held, Zimbabwe will move forward. Once given a chance to rebuild the country, I am convinced that President Mnangagwa will do the right thing for the country and put Zimbabwe back on the growth trajectory so that the economy begins to grow.
“When I went to Parirenyatwa (Hospital in Harare) and just chatted with doctors there, they highlighted shortages of medicines and other things and President Mnangagwa is very much aware of these challenges and I think if he is given his own mandate, he will be able to pay particular attention to that and other issues relating to infrastructure development.
“A number of factories that were closed are beginning to open, but they need an injection of capital and I believe that he (President Mnangagwa) is very mindful of this and that he will certainly do his best with the team he chooses to take the country forward,” he said.
Dr Mwaanga said he was confident that Zimbabwe would rise to its past glory under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa
He said ordinary Zimbabweans he interacted with were impressed by President Mnangagwa’s economic policies and re-engagement efforts and were keen to vote for him.
Said Dr Mwaanga: “Given the work culture of the people of Zimbabwe and the priorities that I heard President Mnangagwa talking about, I am sure that Zimbabwe will rise up again. It is my hope that they (Zimbabweans) will be able to give President Mnangagwa the support that he needs so that he wins the next elections and appoints a Cabinet that will reflect his own vision for the future of Zimbabwe. A Cabinet that will work hard not to embrace the concept of what I call me, myself and I, but the concept of working for the people of Zimbabwe.”
Dr Mwaanga also commended President Mnangagwa’s all-embracing character, saying: “I got the impression that he is doing, by and large, the right things — that he is more tolerant also to the opposition. I noticed that when (MDC-T leader) Morgan Tsvangirai died, he accorded him a State funeral.
“The Government even helped to pay some of the expenses for his funeral and some of his medical bills he had incurred in South African hospitals. Each time I have talked to President Mnangagwa since he has been in office, he bears no bitterness, no hatred towards the other opposition party leaders or towards anybody.”