Dearth of statecraft blights new dispensation

Cyprian M Ndawana.

GOOD day President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, it has all along been apparent that Zimbabwe has reputational challenges. She is too undemocratic to stand with pride and dignity, erect, chest out, shoulder to shoulder among the league of affable nations.

Essentially, Zimbabwe has a despicable credibility crisis. She is in an abyss of shame, a country with no pride. She labours in vain in her endeavours to attract investment. Despite your claims that you hit the ground running, the mega deals you promised are all but pie in the sky.

It goes without saying that an aura of presidential non-conformity hangs over your head. Methinks suspicion is inevitable given that you stormed to power on the back of a military coup. And later on, you clung to power after disputed elections.

Despite attending the famed investment conferences in Davos, Switzerland, your efforts have failed miserably to make the day for investors.

It is a shared belief among investors that Zimbabwe is not open for business, contrary to your overplayed mantra: Zimbabwe is open for business.

Despite the vast potential Zimbabwe is bestowed with, suitors are roundly discouraged by mistrust over the country’s ability to honour its obligations.

It is commonly acknowledged by investors and the international community that Zimbabwe is not at all open for business.

Your Excellency, it was indeed true statemanship for former Mozambican President Joaquim  Chissano to tell you in the face that mistrust between Zimbabwe and her developmental partners was the drawback that was curtailing economic recovery. It was a verity that government needed to be told.

Speaking at a recent meeting in Harare, Chissano, who was facilitating Zimbabwe’s second meeting on debt clearance, was frank.

He drove home the oftentimes denied plain truth that mistrust was the spanner in the works of the development of Zimbabwe.

He pointedly spelt out the need to build trust and confidence between government and its development partners. He attributed the strained relationships to the failure by Zimbabwe to honour agreements, commit and implement decisions.

Yet, even domestically, compensation for Gukurahundi victims, the August 1, 2018 shooting victims and white former commercial farmers who were removed from their farms is still pending owing to government lethargy.

Your Excellency, Chissano was forthright in his analysis of the factors that negatively contribute to Zimbabwe’s failure to service her debt timely. He particularly noted the all too common blight of not honouring contractual obligations.

“There is perception that in some cases, the Zimbabwe government does not honour agreements as well as implement decisions taken. It was underscored that for developmental partners, issues such as the guarantee of property rights and investment protection agreements are critical, as well as the ability to repatriate profits and macroeconomic stability,” Chissano said.

Considering the merits and rationality of his deductions, he debunked the fallacy that Zimbabwe was a victim of illegal sanctions imposed on her by Britain and her Western allies. Foolishly, even the regional leadership, including South Africa, believed this untruth.

Yet, the deepening mistrust between Zimbabwe and her supposed developmental partners stem from the fact that she is not a democratic State. She has an aversion for plurality. Her culture of violence, failure to run credible, open, free and fair elections is her undoing.

Your Excellency, as I see it, your succeeding the late former President Robert Mugabe did not bode well for change. It was improbable, if not altogether a mission impossible, that you would discard the malpractices that characterised the Mugabe regime, of which you were an integral participant.

There was no likelihood of you to usher in the requisite paradigm shift that would have reversed the culture of corruption, repression and State institution partisanship rampant during the hard-handed rulership of your predecessor for decades.

Despite packaging your regime with catchphrases that insinuate newness, in real terms there is no evidence of the renewal you claim.

As you count down to the end of your first presidential term, one thing that stands out like a beacon is the dearth of statecraft and strategy.

It is my fervent conviction that statecraft and strategy are the dual levers that a President worthy of attention and belief ought to master.

A well-balanced co-ordination of these attributes builds confidence in citizenry that the affairs of the State are in safe hands.

Effective statecraft, which is the diligent management of national affairs, engenders credibility in the leader. It conveys to investors and citizenry the legitimacy and authority to administer State affairs; while governance strategy outlines the objectives and roadmap leading to attainment of State goals.

As I see it, your presidency has so far fared badly on both statecraft and strategy. Methinks you found yourself caged in a predicament of wanting to be seen as reforming Zanu PF from its culture of plunder and subjugation. Yet, it no longer suffices for Zimbabwe to habitually blame third parties for the challenges the country faces.

It is to the credit and honour of Chissano that he outlined the credibility challenges faced by the country with profound openness.

Methinks the debacle of accepting the Zec delimitation report that was endorsed by two of the nine electoral commissioners renders the forthcoming elections a farce.

Truly, a dismissive attitude towards the seven disputing commissioners negatively impacts on the authenticity of the entire electoral process.

It points to a dearth of statecraft that constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku disputes your honesty in dealing with the delimitation report.

He believes that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was failing on its mandate to operate independently and transparently.

Amid the questionable delimitation report handling, opposition Citizens Coalition for Change campaign rallies have been cancelled multiple times.

Your Excellency, until you create a democratic society, built on integrity, mistrust between Zimbabwe and her prospective development partners and all stakeholders, including citizenry, will be here to stay.

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