BY any account, Zimbabwe is at a crossroads and one thing is obvious: the situation cannot go on as if everything is normal, that the country is ‘open for business’ and that Nirvana is around the corner.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, yes sir, you are the President and it is incumbent upon you to pilot the country in the direction which it should be going, economically and politically.
But the lack of leadership is glaring. There are many differing views of Mnangagwa, especially before his rise to power, but one thing has been consistent: he is a pragmatic man.
Recall this statement by Josaya Hungwe, a close ally told BBC in August this year: “Mnangagwa is a practical person. He is a person who recognises that politics is politics, but people must eat.”
Zimbabweans are faced with a gloomy festive holiday and the most painful thing is; with the euphoria they had over the departure of former President Robert Mugabe and the hope in the new government, no one ever budgeted for this frustrating development.
Former opposition MP backbencher and an early Mnangagwa supporter, Eddie Cross, says elsewhere on these pages that the President has to act now on the various issues affecting the country such as market distortions, fuel shortages, currency distortions, property rights, investment climate and the rule of law, among others.
He highlights several issues that need urgent attention.
The system where the central bank has to look for foreign currency for the business is unsustainable. There is need to deal with the currency distortions and allow the market to regulate itself. Banks should be allowed to trade and float the local dollar as quickly as possible, like what the country did in 2009.
It is unsustainable to continue on the path of the fallacy exchange rate of 1:1 between the United States dollar and bond note.
Mnangagwa should also deal with corruption to make sure that government officials do not stall investment opportunities in order to get kickbacks. The law should take its course on government officials’ implicated in corrupt activities.
There is also need for Mnangagwa to go beyond the rhetoric that he is interested in solving the country’s economic situation, yet on the ground he is doing everything possible to cripple it further. Mnangagwa should be pragmatic and deal with the real problems the country is facing.
His “open for business” mantra is never a viable option when the business environment is toxic. The way the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) carries its duty is a threat to the growth of business. There is need to reform Zimra and not incapacitate it.
There is also need for the country to honour property rights. The business of impunity and wanton violation of property rights scares away investors.
When Mugabe dismissed him from government in November last year, Mnangagwa released a statement pledging to return to the country to lead Zimbabweans. Well, Zimbabweans need that leadership more than ever.