AFTER taking power on the back of a bloodless coup last November, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised it would “business unusual” and indeed in some respects there have been signs of change, but on the whole it has been much ado about nothing.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
The difference between Mnangagwa’s government and his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s 37 year-rule is that with the former there has been a lot of public face showing, a bit of better communication with the public when compared with the latter’s caste system that was a virtual closed book even to some of his ministers.
Mnangagwa seemed to have anchored his transitional authority that was meant to underwrite his assault on elections set for later this year on the fight against corruption.
However, critics argue this has turned into a corrosive witch-hunt for those linked with Mugabe and his G40 cohorts.
Former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo and his Foreign Affairs counterpart Walter Mzembi headline the lot that has found itself in and out of courtroom for one crime or another, but mostly abuse of office.
Most of Mnangagwa’s ministers still do not pick up their mobile phones a streak carried from the Mugabe days while his Education minister still holds Press conferences late on a Sunday. The few that picked their phones were unwilling to talk about their failures and achievements if any.
On the plus side, Mnangagwa has neither looked East nor West, the President has been engaging everyone across the world, which is a massive departure from Mugabe’s toxic one side policy to depend on China without the reciprocation from the Asian economic behemoth.
In an audio message to citizens marking his first 100 days, Mnangagwa said a lot had been done, but warned of pain ahead.
“On corruption, the phrase ‘zero tolerance approach’ has been backed up by action. We instituted a three-month amnesty to get back stolen funds, mandated all Cabinet ministers to declare assets, created anti-corruption courts in all provinces and clamped down on police roadblocks.
“Internationally, we have been working hard to build our international relations and bring in investment and so far we have secured $3 billion worth of investment commitments from some of the biggest companies in the world,” Mnangagwa said.
As a social safety measure to cushion the poor, Mnangagwa said his government had directed all public health institutions to scrap treatment fees for vulnerable groups, including children under the age of five, pregnant women and senior citizens above 65 years.
Mnangagwa said the government had also facilitated greater use of mobile money to combat the cash crisis and cut excise duty on petrol, which resulted in the reduction of fuel prices.
“We must, of course, be realistic and recognise that it takes more than 100 days to recover an economy,” he said. “Real change takes time.”
“I know there are those among you who are frustrated at the pace of change and I understand that, but let me assure you that though we have had some major achievements, this is just the beginning.
“After 100 days of action we are on the right path and will keep working to increase that pace of reform,” Mnangagwa said.
Mugabe’s problems stemmed largely from a checkered human rights record. He was accused of electoral fraud and shutting out the opposition from freely campaigning and rejecting international observers plea to be allowed to watch the country’s democratic processes.
Mnangagwa, on the other hand, has declared he will allow observers from any country and institution that is interested including the United Nations and European Union. It remains to be seen if this promise will be fulfilled.
Opposition parties and democracy activists argue that Mnangagwa has remained mum as regards issues of human rights and governance instead concentrating his talk on economic revival and creating a good investment climate. There has been no word regarding electoral reforms. Since November 14, the military has remained threateningly visible with chilling deployments in different facets of the government not least of these the Cabinet.
Government spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said a statement on the 100 days will likely be issued by the Office of the President and Cabinet next week.
“The issue of the 100 days program is a Cabinet issue and the Office of the President and Cabinet will issue a statement on that. Plus we still have a few days to go. On the whole, however, I must say a lot has been done and most ministers have made presentations to Cabinet. We have achieved a lot,” Khaya Moyo said.
However, Industry minister Mike Bimha said his 100 days will end in April.
“My 100 days come to end in April and that is where all my targets are pegged. I cannot, therefore, comment before then,” he said.
Former Industry minister and opposition MDC leader Welshman Ncube summed up Mnangagwa’s first 100 days as Zimbabwe’s number one dhololo (an expression that simply means there is all froth and no beer).
“Mnangagwa’s government has the right rhetoric, but nothing in terms of action. The real things that need to be done there is nothing. Zilch. There are rhetorical statements to the effect that Zimbabwe is open for business but there is no action to show that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business.
“The governance issue remains critical and speaks to legitimacy issues around the junta government,” Ncube said. “The respect of the rule of law and the fundamental rights of citizens is important. But if you look at the government’s reaction to the demonstration by students from the National University of Science and Technology it shows nothing has changed from the Mugabe era. Brute force and add to this the killing of unarmed innocent civilians in Harare, then you have a concoction for the same things that we have endured in Mugabe’s 37 years.”
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mnangagwa has failed.
“They failed. Ngwena (Mnangagwa) could have done more. Yes, there are many who think that would have changed – he could have appointed a leaner Cabinet of 16 ministers and no deputies; he would have ensured 50% of the Cabinet are women are other special groups such as the disabled, religious leaders, youth etc.
“He would have ensured a smaller military budget and bigger health and education budgets. Government could have launched a serious and impartial anti-corruption drive, carried a proper civil service staff audit and adjusted monetary and fiscal policies to allow banks to be able to give depositors larger withdrawals,” Saungweme said.
“Mnangagwa could institute electoral reforms; he could have hastened alignment of laws to the new Constitution and removed the (Public Order and Security Act) POSA and (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) AIPPA. The police continue to usurp the work of the police. All these things do not need any money or injection of funds from foreign sources. He failed.”
Former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman and Norton independent lawmaker Temba said Mnangagwa might not have the team to match his vision for the country.
“While ED (Mnangagwa) has led, does he have the correct team to match his vision. Some are there from RGM (Mugabe)’s days and did nothing. (They) blame their incompetence on RGM. There must be no sacred cows and a complete overhaul if necessary.
“ED has set the tone in his first 100 days and led from the front. His biggest achievement was transforming people’s perceptions of Zimbabwe which is key in attracting investors. But the next 100 days must be focused on tackling corruption no one wants to invest where there is no accountability,” Mliswa said.
Talk is cheap and Mnangagwa will need to realise this now rather than later.
The death of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai seems to have re-energised the opposition. Whatever they will say about MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa’s manner of taking power, the die has been cast.
Mnangagwa will face a 40-year-old over confident and erudite opponent in the presidential election. He might have to work even harder if he is to claim his first term or forever be remembered for having been a transitional President. Mugabe will have the last laugh and a long one at that.
Chamisa did not have kind words for Mnangagwa: “It has been 100 days of the last 37 years.”
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti was more scathing: “It’s been a disaster. There has been nothing. It’s been a period of missed opportunities. It’s been a period of lies; nothing but lies, zero performance! People have found him out. The emperor has no clothes; it’s a damp squib.”
And now a closer look at Mnangagwa’s Cabinet. What have they been up to. It’s a mixed bag of failure or promise, take your pick.
From Mugabe, Mnangagwa inherited, Obert Mpofu, Khaya Moyo, David Parirenyatwa, Kembo Mohadi, Bimha, Joram Gumbo, Patrick Chinamasa, Sithembiso Nyoni, Priscah Mupfumira and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
Most of these, analysts argue, are out of their depths and might not match Mnangagwa’s enthusiasm while the sprinklings from the military headed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri and Foreign Affairs’ Sibusiso Moyo (SB Moyo) are too conservative to run a modern economy, let alone transform one that is literally in a comatose state.
Khaya Moyo requires energy at the Energy ministry, Bimha is struggling with an industry policy that he wishes will result in a ban on the importation of second hand cars and the establishment of manufactures locally.
July Moyo, an old hand in Mnangagwa’s inner circle is struggling with the mess at Local Government ministry, with his only achievement being the ban on the controversial coronation of a Ndebele king.
SB Moyo became the darling of the military intervention in November, but beyond that there has been nothing from his end, maybe he could point to the reconnection with colonial master Britain.
Mupfumira wants more local tourism growth and a cut in prices as well as taxes. It’s a wish list, but nothing more. Chinamasa, with cup in hand, is currently in Europe begging, but the cash crunch continues unabated. No solution in sight.
Shiri is bringing back white farmers and there seems to be some growing confidence in the farming sector. Just maybe something will come from him.
It’s a hazy promise from the grounded airman to quote Mnangagwa. Nyoni and Mumbengegwi have retreated into a cocoon, they are as good as non-existent.
For Gumbo, the Harare-Chirundu Road construction continues to “begin” since his short stint under Mugabe and now serving Mnangagwa.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe, the ace under his sleeve. He received wagons two weeks ago, but Zimbabwe could host the world cup for a traditional game played by kids known as nhodo (child’s play) the facilities litter our roads in the force of deep gulley and potholes. World class on that front!
Cancer is ravaging Zimbabwe, the same way HIV and Aids killed hundreds of thousands of citizens in the early days. Parirenyatwa has no clue, no policy and no money.
Mpofu, now ensconced at Home Affairs ministry, has stuck with Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, arguably the longest serving civil servant in Zimbabwe. The queues have re-emerged at the Passport Office, the police have disappeared from the roads since military tanks rolled into Harare in November. It could be out of fear, rather than operational. The irony is Mpofu given the public perception about him, is in charge of policing in Zimbabwe. He scoffed at Parliament early this week. It’s an indictment on Mnangagwa and its no rosy advertisement of the new Zanu PF leader’s envisaged “new dispensation”.
By the way Oppah Muchinguri is also a Cabinet minister, Chiwenga is in charge of Defence and War Veterans portfolios. His boys will get what they want, when they want.
Ziyambi Ziyambi is more comfortable as a Zanu PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland West than anywhere else. He is as clueless as then other lot if not more.
Remember Amon Murwira at Higher Education is struggling with how to deal with his former boss, Levi Nyagura at the University of Zimbabwe.
Paul Mavima at Primary and Secondary Education still thinks he is Lazarus Dokora’s deputy. The mess around the Ordinary Level English Paper 2 should have seen a minister lose their job, if not resign, in normal democracies.
But this is Zimbabwe. Top managers at the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council were suspended “with full benefits”.
And do not forget Kazembe Kazembe at Sports and Supa Mandiwanzira is still a Cabinet minister as well in charge of regulating social media.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa is still around.
Yes, he is and a special advisor to the President and add Public Service minister Petronella Kagonye to the list.
Then there are 10 provincial ministers fronted by Masvingo’s Josaya Hungwe. We leave it here. Time and the court of public opinion will be the ultimate judge.
Elections are due in July or early August, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.