By Tichaona Zindoga
Pragmatism. That could be the word we were looking for to describe President Mnangagwa’s approach and philosophy as he conducts business as leader of both Zanu-PF – the ruling party – and Government.
He is a man so sparing with words and promises.
He is equally sparse with populism and ideology and will not work the masses into a frenzy.
Nor does he pour cold water on a nation’s hopes.
(His ascension last November was actually the biggest lift in the national mood in years.)
Somewhere in between – that vast space between fantasy and reality – is Emmerson Mnangagwa, leader of Zimbabwe’s “Second Republic”.
As he officially opened the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe, incorporating the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Mnangagwa showed he was alive to what is ailing the country – symbolically and otherwise – and he mapped the way forward, giving a roadmap that is easy to follow as Zimbabwe puts its last elections behind, and even so bury the past administration.
From now, it will be Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe – with its functions of State working. Pragmatically.
There are key issues from yesterday’s SONA.
President Mnanagwa did not promise Paradise in the morning after.
Topmost is the economy. He said that the Government was going to prioritise economic development and focus on rapid modernisation and industrialisation of Zimbabwe’s country’s economy, which will take expression in the middle income economy status.
In reference to what ails the country now, namely the currency crisis, which has also spawned price distortions that are prevalent, the answer to this lies in stabilising the macro-economic environment, creation of fiscal space; currency reforms and enhancing foreign currency availability; improving liquidity; increasing the country’s investment attractiveness; reducing the budget deficit and ensuring gradual growth of all sectors of our economy.
Zimbabwe will continue with the use of the multi-currency system up until the current negative economic fundamentals have been addressed to give credence to the introduction of the local currency.
The President explained that “economic fundamentals that need to be met are a sustainable fiscal position, foreign currency reserves of between three to six months of import cover and sustainable consumer and business confidence”.
Zimbabwe is yet to fulfil these fundamentals.
In fact, Zimbabwe is suffering from “negative economic fundamentals”.
Other systemic and structural issues that need to be addressed incorporate economic order and growth; job creation; an end to corruption; improving our social services; and in the provision of requisite infrastructure, water and sanitation, education, healthcare and good environmental practices.
This is not voodoo Government and governance.
It is looking the beast in the eye.
There won’t be miracles from President Mnangagwa’s Government – and certainly no money raining from Heaven.
People will have to work and President Mnangagwa urged high performance culture within all public entities and challenged public servants to change their work ethic, ensure the efficient and prudent use of public resources; responsiveness, accountability as well as timely, impartial and equitable delivery of goods and services.
Government bureaucracy has been notorious for its lethargy and non-implementation of programmes and policies. The President called that out.
Many other issues relating to the running of a country – and this country – remain pretty the same.
Agriculture remains the mainstay. Mining has great potential that must be tapped, taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s vast resources and favourable conditions globally. Tourism has potential, as does the small-to-medium scale sector.
Zimbabwe does not require magic.
It simply requires hard work and the challenge is incumbent upon leaders and citizenry to be focused and work towards achieving set targets and goals.
President Mnangagwa has touted himself as a servant leader and is challenging political leaders to follow his lead.
It will be crucial to see how Government will follow through on its monitoring and evaluation, which we are told will be an ongoing exercise with also reports to the nation. An interesting departure indeed.
The Government will be able to win a lot more confidence from investors as well as the goodwill of the people if it follows through the fight against corruption to the very end.
There has been a discernible movement in that regard as over the past few months high profile people – the so-called bigwigs – are being made to face the music.
Soon, a new and wholesome picture will emerge.
There will be no sacred cows, hopefully.
President Mnangagwa looks ready for the challenge, not least because he has shown the kind of candour in dropping some career ministers in his Cabinet announced last week.
That cold practicality could change the dynamics of politics and governance of Zimbabwe forever.
It is what the doctor has ordered.
What is required as Zimbabwe moves from this point is that President Mnangagwa should maintain the high line and demand delivery from his lieutenants who should know that they are hired to perform and to perform well.
President Mnangagwa’s task is made onerous by the burden of history that he is carrying.He is inheriting a country that has been through it all and reached rock bottom.
Zimbabwe lost years through negative growth, disinvestment and de-industrialisation.
Today, the graveyard that is the local industry speaks to better days that must be revived.
The decayed machinery tell a story of speed that need to be regained.
The crumbling infrastructure reminds one that Zimbabwe needs a leg to stand on.
All this is a burden that is placed on the new administration in Zimbabwe.
The team leader will have to marshal his troops to change Zimbabwe forever – and it is hoped that everyone knows what they signed up to.
Something tells us that the President will have to make use of the whip to crack on the backs of lethargic ministers and civil servants.
The whip will also be useful in cracking discipline.
That is the firmness that is required for a country like Zimbabwe that has to overcome negative fundamentals before it can attain growth and beyond.
It is just being pragmatic.
There are a couple of African countries that have emerged from crises and have been marshalled towards prosperity and recognition by a combination of pragmatism and firmness.
President Mnangagwa promises these qualities.
He will not excite the popular masses on the square, whip emotions with demagoguery, and fire the bellies of vigilantes.
Yet, this could be Zimbabwe’s turning point.
It is Emmerson Mnanagwa’s turning point – and the next years will vindicate (or damn) him.