The propensity by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to dictatorial tendencies is probably the biggest drawback to his well-intentioned efforts to reform the country’s economy, which has been in a tailspin for as long as he has been in power.
Granted, former President Robert Mugabe left it in a terrible state, but he had the foundations and goodwill to reverse the crisis.
Generally, economics follow certain laws, and will not bend to suit an individual’s intentions.
We have seen this in the government’s decision to ban the United States dollar and other foreign currencies which had become legal tender in Zimbabwe and reintroduce the Zimdollar.
This was a unilateral decision — a political command without consultation with key stakeholders like business or workers.
Of course every nation should have its own currency, but with all fundamentals in place. What’s also wrong with seeking a consensus?
In the shorter term businesses will reap some rewards. But such a brash approach to economics has never worked anyway in the world, and will not likely work in Zimbabwe. What this country needs to fix is its politics, which determines the economics.
We have seen a similar attitude in the political dialogue that Mnangagwa is leading. It does not make sense that Mnangagwa is the convener of the dialogue when he is part of a dispute.
Such dialogue demands a neutral convener, one without the bias brought about by being a participant. Ideally, this dialogue should have been convened by a respected neutral political
elder. This is the only way it can secure the necessary buy-ins and, consequently, move the country forward.
The recent call for dialogue around the emotive subject of Gukurahundi is another case in point. Understandably, chiefs in the Midlands and Matabeleland are not keen to have Mnangagwa lead the process because he was part of the system that presided over the brutalities that killed over 20 000 innocent civilians. The sensitivity of the subject demands a fair, neutral and uncompromised chair.
All these are indications that there is need for ED to stop imposing himself on the people. If he wants to be known as a reformist, he needs to move away from command politics, listen to the issues being raised by the people and act accordingly to address them.
The era for decrees is long gone. Modern civilisation and democracy is about securing buy-in from the governed. Surely if, indeed, Mnangagwa is a listening President, then we must start to see more and more of the listening and action compared to what is currently obtaining on the ground.