The declaration that Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa won that July 30, 2018 Presidential election marked the end of a highly competitive political season.
It was an election of many firsts: a ballot paper without the name Robert Mugabe for the first time since 1980; Zanu-PF’s charge being headlined by Cde Mnangagwa; no Morgan Tsvangirai in the picture; a record 23 Presidential candidates; and an astonishing 133 participating political parties.
Also, there were four women in the Presidential race, with Dr Thokozani Khupe coming third in the contest.
Although only one won, there was a huge number of independent candidates who ran visible campaigns.
At the end of it all, Cde Mnangagwa was declared President-elect, and his Zanu-PF party secured a two-thirds majority by winning 145 of the 210 National Assembly seats.
And so the hard work begins.
Consensus across the political divide is that the economy needs to be fixed and livelihoods for all improved, which is what the President-elect has pledged to do and has been working towards even before the polls.
“It is not anymore politics and politics, we are saying politics and economics. Zvinhu zvinoitisa kuti pamba pave nechikafu ndozvatinotarira. Zvinhu zvinoitisa kuti mhuri imwe neimwe ikwanise kutumira vana vayo kuchikoro zvakanaka ndizvo zvatinotarisa…” Cde Mnangagwa told people at a field day event held at a farm owned by Mr Irvene Taguta of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church in April.
As the President-elect prepares to form his new Government, economists are agreed that the key tenets of meritocracy and the dignity of hard work need to be the centrepiece of the need administration.
Economist Dr Gift Mugano says: “The appointment of Cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of State-owned enterprises were (in previous administrations) largely on political considerations as opposed to merit.
“This resulted in some people presiding over entities to which they had no clue of the basic micro-economics. This has resulted in pervasive failure of our economy.”
Appointments to public posts, he says, should not be about rewarding loyalty.
There are also arguments being made against a bloated bureaucracy, with Dr Mugano saying: “In my view, we need a lean Cabinet which is defined by the critical need of the economy, not political accommodation.” Going forward, he says, Government’s focus should be on raising revenues.
Key areas requiring urgent attention relate on how to unleash potential in agriculture by addressing issues related to productivity; costs of production; access to finance, markets and information; and mechanisation and irrigation.
According to Mr John Robertson of Robertson Economics, the next Government needs to continue improving the ease of doing business environment. “A very important step for the new Government is to remove all the discouraging features of our investment environment, remove the requirements for many licenses and permits before investment applications are approved and ease restrictions on residence and work permits for foreign investors,” he says.
The new administration has been urged to leverage on mining, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture to stimulate economic growth. Economists say there is need for the country to create new industries and revive the manufacturing sector.