PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday failed to proffer tangible solutions to the ongoing cash crisis, but pledged to hold free and fair elections, while declaring zero tolerance on corruption in his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) .
BY VENERANDA LANGA
However, although the SONA promised the revival of the economy, it failed to tackle cash shortages, and price hikes affecting the nation.
“My government is committed to entrenching a democratic society driven by respect for the Constitution, rule of law, mutual tolerance, peace and unity, and to this end government will do all in its power to ensure that the 2018 harmonised general elections are credible, free and fair,” Mnangagwa said.
“Corruption remains the major source of some of the problems we face as a country . . . the goal of my government is to build a new Zimbabwe based on the crown values of honesty, transparency, accountability and hard work . . . and on individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished in accordance with the dictates of our laws.”
Mnangagwa said there was rampant smuggling of gold by a network of local and foreign cartels and warned they would soon face the full wrath of the law.
Mnangagwa said in his first 100 days in office, government would endeavour to impress by prioritising implementing policies pronounced during the 2018 National Budget statement, enhancing transparency and accountability, exercising discipline and commitment in serving the people as well as removing policy inconsistencies, and ensuring the legal environment is conducive to investors.
However, the President’s speech only acknowledged in passing that there was a cash crisis and rampant increases of prices of goods.
“In the last few weeks, the country has witnessed rampant increases in the prices of goods and services. I appeal yet again to our business community to show restraint and avoid wanton hiking of prices, bearing in mind the fact that such actions raise the appeal of cheaper imports, which has the effect of undermining current efforts to develop the local industry,” he said.
He also promised patients at hospitals that government would undertake measures to solve issues ranging from long delays to provision of drugs, adding that local authorities must ensure adequate functioning water and sanitation infrastructure and deal with land barons and corrupt town planning practices.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo spoke glowingly of Mnangagwa’s SONA, saying the main problem in Zimbabwe was that politically, the country was free, but economically, it was not.
“Within the first 100 days, we should, therefore, ensure that we deliver those things to the people, and, above all, deal with the disease of corruption,” Moyo said.
MDC-T deputy president and Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa described the SONA as “hot air” which was full of promises which will never get delivered.
“We want to hear that the fat cats that have been engaging in corruption resulting in the missing $15 billion diamond revenue are dealt with. If heads do not roll in government, then we cannot say we will take the issues he has said seriously. He (Mnangagwa) did not say anything about cash shortages and if he wants free advice on how to solve them, he must approach the MDC-T,” Chamisa said.
“On free and fair elections, we want action where everyone is registered in the voters’ roll, the Diaspora vote is allowed and also to ensure that people are able to campaign freely. We want the army to be able to salute a person chosen by the people of Zimbabwe because elections have always been like a war zone in this country.”
MDC chief whip Jasmine Toffa said Mnangagwa spoke well when he indicated that he would ensure hospitals were functional, adding this should not only be mere rhetoric.
President of the Chiefs’ Council, Fortune Charumbira, said the SONA showed seriousness in government taking the country forward in terms of development and changing the quality of lives of the people.