Beyond the rhetoric, what does Mnangagwa offer?

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured)came to power, I was one of the sceptical ones, as he has been in government since independence and I believed he was as much to blame for the economic, political and social mess in the country as his predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

By Nqaba Matshazi

He was clearly not a new broom and I did not expect him to sweep any cleaner than his predecessor.

A few weeks in power, Mnangagwa started saying what I thought were the right things, his team worked very hard to rebrand him.

The “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra started and I thought hold on, maybe this man is on to something.

The country had long been isolated and there was need for a counter-narrative to show that Zimbabwe was on a different trajectory.

The scarf — in the first few days at least — was a brilliant branding idea, but I think it is past its sell by date and is now the object of ridicule.

Mnangagwa spoke about an amnesty for people who externalised money, he went to Davos, Switzerland and for a moment at least he seemed to have an idea what needed to be done.

And for the sake of populism, he even threatened to join cash queues in banks to show that he was like one of us and is also said to have refused to receive his salary in cash, preferring that it is banked like for the rest of us.

You can downplay this at your own peril, for the masses, these were masterstrokes and Mnangagwa was differentiating himself from Mugabe in a brilliant way — he was presenting himself as one of us.

But as time went on, the gloss began to wear off and now the question is: beyond the rhetoric, what does Mnangagwa offer?


The President was asked in a BBC interview on his achievements and I was gobsmacked to hear him mention the removal of roadblocks as one of them.

In a country with as many problems as ours, the removal of roadblocks cannot be seen as an achievement and if he was hard-pressed to mention this, he should have mentioned it as the last one.

Given, the police were a menace on the roads, but the main problem was not the cops, but rather the endemic corruption that had blighted the force.

If the police had done their jobs without their extortionate behaviour, nobody would have worried about the number of roadblocks and, hence, an achievement, for example, would have been on clamping down on corruption in the force.

In the absence of police, particularly in Harare, the roads are a nightmarish, lawless jungle that needs to be tamed sooner rather than later.

Mnangagwa published a list of alleged companies and individuals that externalised money and the consensus was that this was a damp squib.

Months later, nobody has any idea what happened to those who were found on the wrong side of the law.

The mantra is that thousands of jobs have been created, but for those that are unemployed and have been looking for work for the past several years, this sounds like empty rhetoric.

The tragedy is that Mnangagwa is seen to be overpromising and under delivering.

Mnangagwa also set himself a 100-day target, a wholly American milestone meant to gauge a new President’s legislative agenda.

I was wary when the President almost promised manna in his first 100 days because there was no way he was going to achieve some if not most of his goals and he and his ministers fell far too short.

The 100-days target has all been but forgotten and no one is mentioning it.

Had there been any achievement, then this could have been a good platform for Zanu PF to campaign on, but instead, they are campaigning like they are in the opposition, telling Zimbabweans what they will offer rather than what they achieved.

The less said about the cash situation the better.

State media headlines have been telling us how the cash situation is set to improve and how much money has been imported, but everyone knows that the situation has only become worse.

Like his predecessor, Mnangagwa has fallen into the trap of hyping “mega deals”, but the pitfall is that if the ordinary Zimbabwean does not see an immediate improvement in their lives, they will certainly believe they are being taken for a ride.

Mnangagwa has offered an improved economy, but now that looks like a chimera — a thing that is hoped for, but is illusory or impossible to achieve.

Zimbabweans will be happy to see delegations of Western businesses coming into the country or an uptick in the number of tourists, but it means absolutely nothing to them if they cannot access cash or get jobs, instead, they see the rate of the US dollar accelerating on the parallel market, meaning goods and services are becoming costlier.

On international platforms, Mnangagwa has said the right things, but locally there is ambivalence on his delivery record.

 Feedback: nmatshazi@southerneye.co.zw Twitter: @nqabamatshazi

29 Comments

  1. josphat mugadzaweta

    he offers nothing

    1. THE STORY HAS NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE ,,,ED HAVE BEEN AND IS WORKING HARD TO REBRAND ZIM ,REBUILD WORLDWIDE RELATIONS,REBUILD ECONOMY AND COUNTRY WHICH HAD COLLAPSED OVER 37 YEARS .THIS HAD SHOWN SIGNS OF ACHIEVEMENTS THOUGH FULL BENEFITS CANNOT JUST OVERFLOW OVERNIGHT LIKE MAHEWU…GIVE HIM AT LEAST A TERM TO JUDGE HIM.

  2. truth be told these elections hav exposed zimbabwe as not having good politicians…mnangagwa offers little chamisa even less with bullet trains and airports in mirehwa

  3. Time Will Tell

    At least Chamisa is offering but has not failed yet. ED has completely failed both during Mugabe era and post Mugabe.

    1. Takunda Nigel

      Adherents of the satanic faith of puppetry hold that we live in dual worlds , one visible , the other invisible .On this basis it is possible , quite probable that in one of those worlds Shamisa could be doing better than the real world ED .

  4. Your Name (required):Special Black

    Economy haingo anekeri pa seven months yeuka kuti pano vakwa zvivakwa pasati patanga kushanda. do you know kuti chamisa akaedza kuita scare away mainvesters paakati hatizocherechedzi madeals ese akaitwa neprevious gvt. pama us my friend mari iya iri pa demand zvokuti kana mabullet train haazvikwanisi. chete iwe wanyora pamwe hauoni zvirikuitika. hapana industry inongotanga kushanda pasina kugadziriswa. panyaya yekubisa mapurisa mu road it promotes tourism.

    1. Taura hako Special Black I don’t know kuti iye pachake akakwanisa here kusolver maproblems emumba make kubva zvaakazvarwa kusvika nhasi? Asi he expects ED to do miracles. He is even forgetting that Zimbabwe was at its best before mdc came with their foolish strategy of sabotaging the economy so that they campaign blaming ZANUPF, and they nearly achieve in 2008. So bamboo vanyora pamusoro apo awo ndewe mdc vanoda kunyepera kuti vaida ED vakarwadziva nekuti vaifunga KUTI AFTER MUGABE HAS GONE THROUGH RESTORE LEGACY THEY WERE GOING TO BE IN AN INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENT. Hapana zvaataura uyu to hell

      1. Takunda Nigel

        … yes , to hell for keeps .Vanhuyi vasingadi chakanaka ?
        I strongly suspect most ofthe problems thgat trouble these pple the most are family relational problems which they are incapable of solving because they do not know how to think constructively .

      2. uri benzi chairo. kana iye Ed asingakwanise kugadzirisa maproblems enyika ino , chaakabvisira Mugabe chii? kuda kungotonga iye asingakwanise? rubbish. Zanu Pf has been defeated since 2000 by MDC and remained in power thru rigging zvaunoziva. Apa wanyara kutaura kuti MDC won 2008 elections which took 6 weeks for results to be announced, the votes for MDC being discounted zvichinzi there is recount, shame on you lizzard. Devil is working with you full time. you are happy seeing people dying due to lack of medical care in hospitals, apa imi veZanu mukarwara momhanyira south Africa and overseas. Iyo ecomomy payaiparara over 38 years where was Ed? he presided over this decay and today you expect normal thinking zimbabweans to give him more time, more time to completely destroy the country uri benzi wazvinzwa.

  5. Special Black wa mira mira wena. Uchato pihwa chigaro musi wa 2 August.

  6. No amount of propaganda or explanations can ever cover up for the fact that ED is useless. Chamisa on the other hand can be judged by his performance in the inclusive government & the results are as clear as daylight

  7. Silvester Matambo

    What a hare brained article by an armchair critic who has nothing to offer to our country. ED is going around the country officiating on mega deals, the Hwange power deal, the platinun deal coming soon, and you do not see all these mega deals. What you do is harp on nothing and cheer a hopeless guy like Chamisa when he parrots about international airports in Murehwa, etc. Get a grip on yourself as 30 July approches, we the rational Zimbabweans know that ED pfeeeeeeeeeeee!

  8. 7 months is a long time to start cleaning up a dead system. Celebrating removal of roadblocks without eliminating the cause of the rise of such in the first place shows very poor analytical, diagnostic and remedial skills. Quite agreed. Have also been a skeptic from day 1 – sadly proved correct by events on the ground!
    No plan or solution to the cash crisis.
    Failure to implement simple alignment of electoral laws to the constitution.
    Very blurry vision to take the nation forward.
    We’ve been here before – deja vu.

  9. Mnangagwa has done nothing tangible on the ground besides his epithet ” Zimbabwe is open for business mantra” but Chamisa can be judged with what he did during his time as minister in the 2008-2013 GNU. Mnangagwa was minister since 1980 but did nothing good to Zimbabwean populace.

  10. if he was serious about reforming our nation then he was supposed to start with arresting those who destroyed it. He claimed he is doing that in November 2017 during the coup but until todate no one has been arrested and it seems he played us a good game of let me replace you and people will think that we are a new Government when its that old SAME Zanu PF and just new names.

  11. ED has nothing to offer and the good thing is all citizens are now very much alive to that fact.

  12. Your Name (required):Special Black

    My friend we know very well that chamisa wants to reverse the gains of independence. run down economy yakakonzerwa nana chamisa ivava vaienda kunoti rambai makatsika pamasanctions. iyezvino macouncilors enyu arikushungurudza vanhu nezvibhorani corruption neviolence yakati tii mu mdc. kana munangarwa asina chekupa pane pawakamboona mai chamisa kana chamisa achibatsira vanotambura. painclussive my friend mari yaibva chiyadzwa. us dollar harisi rekushandisa se currency asikuti rinotsigira currency yenyu.

  13. the beautiful ones are not yet born

    The problems with these politicians is that take people for fools, hence they shamelessly and consistently dish out false and unrealistic promises.

    Any normal thinking Zimbabwean knows that the economy of a country does not change overnight (if you could that no country could be poor). You need several years to do that. What we need right now is someone who can steady the ship and start building strong foundations for future economic development. Building the foundation can take up to 10 years of responsible governance.

    We need someone who has a genuine strategy to at least attend to basic issues,not these high sounding empty visions. We are tired of the so called visionaries who are selling pies in the air …

  14. Removing roadblocks was a move to restore confidence among locals and foreigners. It benefited the nation in that we are now seen as a non-repressive country. If the writer doesn’t see this as an achievement, then it’s his problem. Under Mugabe, parties never campaigned freely, and rural areas were no go zones for opposition parties. However Mnangagwa freed the political space, and this is why any political party can now hold a meeting or a rally without being brutalized by the police. Zimbabweans can now criticize the president without the fear of being arrested or being made to disappear. Internationally, we are now on speaking terms with the rest of the world, and hopefully this will translate into business opportunities for our country. I don’t think Matshazi really believes that a good president should move around with bags of cash dishing it out to people. The economy needs mending, so that people get opportunities to work and improve their lives. Mending a bleeding country will always take time, and ED is trying to create a chance for the country to move forward, whether under him or under another president, and I thought Matshazi was enlightened enough to think in a way different from that of “now-now” brigade.

  15. Removing roadblocks was a move to restore confidence among locals and foreigners. It benefited the nation in that we are now seen as a non-repressive country. If the writer doesn’t see this as an achievement, then it’s his problem. Under Mugabe, parties never campaigned freely, and rural areas were no go zones for opposition parties. However Mnangagwa freed the political space, and this is why any political party can now hold a meeting or a rally without being brutalized by the police. Zimbabweans can now criticize the president without the fear of being arrested or being made to disappear. Internationally, we are now on speaking terms with the rest of the world, and hopefully this will translate into business opportunities for our country. I don’t think Matshazi really believes that a good president should move around with bags of cash dishing it out to people. The economy needs mending, so that people get opportunities to work and improve their lives. Mending a bleeding country will always take time, and ED is trying to create a chance for the country to move forward, whether under him or under another president, and I thought Matshazi was enlightened enough to think in a way different from that of the “now-now” brigade.

  16. Do the Chamisa one next cause, it also got me thinking, What does Chamisa also offer beyond the talk

  17. N leader can lead without support ED/Chamisa withour character asZimbabweans of not seeing good in everything tinopedzisa nekuti zvavakuda Mwari . We are very good at criticism but solutions dololo

  18. We are still to see guys, with The ZDF at our side as citizens to incline our grievances. We can hope for the better, everyone is bitter about mismanaged economic foundation.What i know most is it needs time, development is a process, even NC cannot re-dawn a risen day.

  19. A country is like an Ocean liner (ship) which does not turn around easily. The idea that Mnangagwa will turn the fortunes of the miserable country around instantly is unrealistic. Mugabe was at it since 1980 and the country went south. When Mugabe was addressing rallies in the 1960s you would have thought independence meant every citizen winning the lottery at once. The politicians all start with great enthusiasm but after a while they realise things are not as they seem, that it is not a walk in the park.
    Nobody really knows what Mugabe had in mind when he joined politics, people still do not know. I think it is just an obsession to be leader, a mental illness.
    If you have never so much as run a market stall in your life why try and run a whole big undeveloped country? The only way for Zimbabwe is down.

  20. wHAT DELS Matambo,Mugabe has been doing the same failed useless Chinese deals. ED has nothing good to offer only propaganda for useless zanu pf baboons.

  21. Janana Bikaldo

    I feel sorry for all the idiots who are dismissing Chamisa as if he has been a president bofore.The short time that Chamisa was was a cabinet minister is proof enough that the young man has the stamina to change the fortunes of this country.On the contrary Munangagwa has been in the government for the past 38 years yet he failed even to influence some positive changes in the government. despite the fact that he was Bob’s right hand man.Surely how can a man who has two balls between his legs fail to have some influence for a staggering 38 years?The only influence that he had on the old dictator Bob were actually negative ones. He masterminded the killings of innocent citizens for a mere reason that they were Ndebeles.He played a pivotal role in the abductions and dissappearance of political rivals,and in 2008 he also made sure that the winning candidate of the presidential elections candidate the late Dr Morgan Tsvangirayi (May his soul rest in eternal peace)was denied the right to take over the reins.And some blinkered zanunoids tells us that ED has my vote.My foot!The guy is past his sell by date.The only thing he can do better is kungovukura achingovukura without action.Yet some stupid zanu pf idiots are content with the barking.

  22. I also feel sorry for the idiots who see something in Chamisa nekunyepa kwake pose pose.
    Anyone who promises instant change haazivi mafambiro eupenyu be economy.
    Munongoita sotuvana tunokonzi ndichakupa ma sweet kototi zvaita.
    Zimbabwe has never known the peace that it enjoys now. Chamisa goes around castigating ED and ZANU PF pose pose but you have never heard ED retaliating. That’s mature leadership

  23. ED was and is part of the 37 years of destructive Mugabe regime so even if he wears a scarf or claims ZIM is open…have we ever been closed…these guys have looted billions… If this chap was serious he would get his own finance minister…this is the same old same old…Zimbabweans get fooled coz they believe promises….even though they know this is just one pie in the sky….promises and lies…where is the cash they claimed they got….now we see a flood of coins …new bond notes on the government sponsored pararal market and nothing in the bank…let’s face the truth the reality these chaps are clueless …a waiste of time….the only better life Zimbabweans had was from 2009-2013….otherwise what a waist…and worse still their only economic plan is return of ZIM dollar ….why coz they only thought pattern is failure.38 years is long enough….Zimbabwe is open for foreigners not locals…bring your investment in forex we give you Zim dollar…have you ever seen a VAT invoice from a Chinese or Nigerian shop…are you allowed to swipe…but try open your own place …before you even open doors Zimra will be waiting…its time to fix this for tomorrow use your vote as your voice …let Change come to Zimbabwe

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