HARARE – As Zimbabwe hurtles towards into the New Year, the majority of the country’s population is bruised economically, socially and politically.
The “Daily News on Sunday’s Assistant Editor Maxwell Sibanda spoke to several analysts to hear their views on what they think should be the key priorities for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government in 2019.
Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights lawyer believes that for Mnangagwa and his government to be able to unlock sustainable economic development and international re-engagement they should prioritise human rights protection, law reforms and demonstrable respect for the rule of law.
“There is nothing that says ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ than policy clarity and a free environment where people enjoy their basic rights,” he argues.
Piers Pigou, a political analyst says the year 2019 should see the implementation of the reform promises, debt arrears repayment, accessing new lines of credit, turning investment interest into real deals.
“He (Mnangagwa) should prioritise national reconciliation, but I do not think he really knows what to do about this and will leave other constituencies to paddle in that pool,” he opines.
MacDonald Lewanika, another political analyst said making life bearable for the common man economically, socially and politically should be on top of the priority list for Mnangagwa’s government.
“That’s the priority — the what, the how is as follows; economically the bleeding needs to be stopped and people need to have access to jobs and meaningful economic opportunities without the government on their necks. This entails economic reforms with a human face that accepts that most of our people are living in the precarious informal economy and that government rather than seeing them as an unexploited tax base should see them as an unexploited economic growth base that needs to be supported and gradually moved out of informality. It means restoring the trust in money and institutions that presided over monetary affairs and that starts with honesty on the value of the dollar,” he said.
Tabani Moyo, Crisis Coalition’s spokesperson said it’s very difficult to second guess the current administration due to a glaringly missing ideological foundation on the part of the government.
“One gets a feeling that the country is on autopilot and the people who are supposed to command the levers of state control are literally sleeping on the switch.
“So the current economic chaos will be the defining feature of the New Year, with very little to expect from the central government except mantras that are increasingly sounding hollow,” Moyo said.
Vivid Gwede, a political analyst said it would be difficult to see which direction 2019 would go given that there is no discernible sense of direction in this government.
“If the question is what should be done, then the answer is that there is need for dialogue. The fallouts from the disputed 2018 harmonised elections and lack of democratic legitimacy are clearly eating at the heart of the country’s turnaround prospects. The Mnangagwa administration desperately lacks the mojo to turn things around on its own,” said Gwede.
Precious Shumba, a journalist, said the challenge that we currently face as a nation appear to be more complex than what is on the surface.
“The expectation is that the president’s team has to focus more on sorting out the currency issues so that the current market distortions on the value of the bond and the US dollar are addressed as a top priority.
“The continued pricing distortions have to be addressed, and once these are dealt with, companies and investors would be certain of the security of their investments and the future of their businesses.
“Job creation and infrastructural development are some key priorities that they need to address without wasting time on power games that we continue to witness, while the majority suffers without adequate money to buy food, drugs and transport costs.
“The Government has to prioritise the people and ensure that the people are valued and placed at the centre of Government’s basis for decision and policymaking,” said Shumba.
Rejoice Ngwenya, a social analyst could only say: “There are just three things that Mnangagwa would do; entrench power to secure his future, pacify the economy and keep opposition subdued.”
Nigel Nyamutumbu, a media practitioner, said the major priority for government is finding a way out of the economic crisis.
“Government cannot sustain the lie that the bond note is equal to the US$. By the same account dollarising via the backdoor as is currently obtaining also has dire consequences. At a political level, government must walk the talk on reforms and also prioritise national dialogue and engagement with the opposition.”
Obert Gutu, a lawyer and politician, said government should prioritise economic revival as its number one priority in 2019.
“The Zimbabwean economy is in a real mess and it really needs drastic and far-reaching measures to take it out of the cooler. Mnangagwa should roll up his sleeves and call all his troops to order. The fight against deeply entrenched corruption should be authentic, more focused and sustained. Corruption is reaping our country into shreds; it is like the legendary Frankenstein monster that crushes and devours everything and anything that it comes across,” he said.
Gutu called on government to promptly align all laws with the supreme law of the land.
“The democratisation agenda should be accelerated and deepened. Elsewhere, Africa is rising but sadly Zimbabwe is being left behind. We deserve to be up there among the democratic and socio-economic leaders of Africa.
“The majority of the people of Zimbabwe are living in abject penury and poverty. This is not right. The people don’t deserve to suffer like this. Mnangagwa has to ensure that non-performers and corrupt authorities within his administration are given the sack. For how long are we going to tolerate indolence, ineptitude, laziness, incompetence, inefficiency and corruption?” he said.
Tawanda Chimhini, the director of the Election Resource Centre, said in the New Year, Mnangagwa and his administration must strive to fix that which is broken.
“The right tone to convince Zimbabweans first and the international community at large must be set to show that the country is on a new path. Given developments in 2018, the economy and politics in Zimbabwe must be fixed. They are both broken. The two are not mutually exclusive. In order to fix the two issues, Mnangagwa and his administration must embrace and be responsive to feedback including criticism,” said Chimhini.
He said the country’s democratic culture must be punctuated by inclusivity, respect of the constitution and accountability.
“The New Year presents an opportunity for Mnangagwa to strengthen laws and align them all with the constitution, before any consideration to amend the constitution, strengthen institutions that should support democracy to enhance independence, professional and constitutional conduct, enforce, submit to and defend the constitution without fear or favour. The must mark a departure from the old to the new through action, not just words.”