Action, not rhetoric, Sir

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa

By Cyprian M Ndawana
DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Your Excellency, if truth be told, Zimbabwe ought not have been in a persistent vegetative state. She was the jewel of Africa at independence in 1980. Yet, even the hyped Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, and subsequent ones, could not mend her to viability.

Now, more than ever before, she is desperately needful of an propitious turnaround thrust. As I see it, sweeping utterances like, “an upper middle class society by 2030”, do not suffice. Evidently, the country is doddering, outrightly feeble and unsteady.

It is a pity how Zimbabwe has to go around the world with a begging bowl, yet she has many low-hanging fruits that can extricate her from the mess she is in. Her counting on such economic minnows like Belarus,  who number among the poorest in Europe, does not inspire recovery confidence. Zimbabwe can no longer afford the luxury of rhetoric. It is almost five years since we heard that Zimbabwe was open for business.

Yet, not even meagre deals emanated from the tagline. Also, claims of being a second republic or new dispensation have yielded nothing. Aptly, livelihoods have markedly fallen ever since power was wrested from the late former President Robert Mugabe.

All in all, families are roundly impoverished. They are in dire straits, lugged by malaise. Their sustenance suffered massive erosion. With prices of basic foodstuffs on a continuous rise, putting food on the table is now a difficult task.

It is worsened by the local currency (these Zimdollars that are essentially a mutation of the bond note) whose value falls at every twist and turn. It depreciates rapidly just like water cupped in one’s hands drips out. Yet, it is by dint of intransigence that government is dragging its feet on dollarisation.

Your Excellency, when public school teachers cited incapacitation, they were not playing hardball. They were saying it like it is. It was the veritable plain truth. Little wonder, for some military and police officers, the push has come to shove, hence their resorting to armed robbery.

Indeed, the civil service as a whole, including the uniformed personnel, have been reduced to bare bones due to incapacitation. Essentially, citizens face a bleak future, hence my fervent conviction that now is the ideal hour for thinking anew about crafting propitious recovery strategies.

Henceforth on your securing the Presidency, you promised mega deals and a return of citizenry who had formerly voted with their feet into the diaspora. Yet, conversely, nationals are as determined as ever to stay put, even as in far afield countries as Canada and Australia. Ironically, children of war heroes also number among the hordes of economic refugees.

A sizeable number of Zimbabweans who have been working in South Africa is currently frantically regularising their continued stay after the discontinuation of their special permits. None among the estimated 20 000 ever weighed options of repatriation.

Save for the influx of the Chinese, there are no mega deals to talk about. Contrarily, these Asians are causing disquiet among the rural folk. The locals are fearful of prospects of being compulsorily removed from their ancestral lands to make way for Chinese mining ventures.

Your Excellency, overall, your promises, including ones on fighting corruption and naming and shaming of land barons, are still queuing to be actioned. Also, your policies, like that of reviving the public transporter — the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company, are still far from fruition.

Mr President, duly, it is about time the challenges bedevilling the country were approached with a new mind set. Ideally, the donations spree which now characterises the First Family no longer suffices as a viable venture towards uplifting the standard of living of citizenry.

Although you branded your administration with names that embody new beginnings, in essence, there is no corresponding desire to break from the past. There is apparent perpetuation of the former modus operandi, which you were an integral part since 1980.

Even your fellow revolutionary ruling party in South African, the African National Congress, is concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe. It felt duty-bound to dispatch a high level delegation for a camaraderie pep talk. Yet, their comradeship was not received with deserved mutuality.

All told, Zimbabweans are forlorn, desperately needful of what the famed oratorical Winston Churchill described as a miracle of deliverance. Despite the intransigence by government, my bountiful expectation for the dawn of the miracle of deliverance spurs me.

Given the outcome of the recent by-elections, in which the opposition was unwearied in its devotion, prospects of economic recovery are evident on the horizon. Methinks it is a deliverance of a miracle that the opposition, undaunted by odds, turned the tide.

Ordinarily, mortals of lesser resolve could have resigned themselves to their woes. However, I duly render my admiration for the tenacious opposition sparingly, lest I be thought fulsome. Be that as it may, I will live to honour its courage.

It takes pertinacity to square off with tyranny. Looking at it in the eyes as the opposition did is not for the faint hearted. More so that the opposition was not peppered with vote-buying enticements like State resources, partisan State institutions, boreholes and fishing boats.

Your Excellency, there are perennial dark chapters which ought have awoken your conscience. Among these are the Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s, targeted sanctions and holding credible, free and fair elections, to mention but the three. They deserved priority in your schedule as evidence of new administration.

It is a given that you could have elevated yourself to the hallowed rank of Statesmen had you judiciously rallied the nation towards amicable resolutions of these dark spots. If you had done so, it could have been credible evidence of the real dawn of the new dispensation.

Yet, over and above the perennial dark chapters which Mugabe left unresolved, you hit the ground running to cause fresh ones. It gives credence to disputants of your claims of being a soft as wool President that guns blazed in Harare less than a year into your Presidency.

With the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill currently before Parliament, democratic space is destined to further shrink. It has a sordid objective, which is the curtailment of non-governmental organisations. It will be goodbye to human rights once the Bill becomes law.

Essentially, your threat to block development in opposition-led local authorities was devoid of due diligence. It was mullish, outrightly infra dig. With all due respect, your Presidency is typical of a bull in a china shop. Your Excellency, let he who has ears, hear.