EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to restore our legacy, Mr President 

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to restore our legacy, Mr President 

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to restore our legacy, Mr President | The Financial Gazette May 3, 2018

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

IN the aftermath of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and his boss Emmerson Mnangagwa’s emphatic views that lethargic contractors and economic saboteurs must go, Zimbabweans must have received this news with much glee and optimism ― that the real “restoration of our legacy is here!”

And this could be the feeling for many reasons that people might have taken for granted or simply chosen to accept under Robert Mugabe’s disastrous 37 years in power.

While Chiwenga has set the tone for this much-welcome approach to doing business and national governance by declaring on April 25 that government would not tolerate business partners in the habit of bagging tenders ― the Geiger International way ― and sit on them, Mnangagwa also deserves (rare) kudos for asserting that “impediments in the economic growth agenda and residual resistance of any kind is unacceptable”.

“We will do ground-breaking ceremonies when the contractor has already started construction work. You will remember the president… recently cancelled the tender for the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu project,” the ex-army commander told a Zimbabwe International Trade Fair business conference in Bulawayo last month, adding “government will not take people who are not serious about projects of national significance”.

And as Zimbabweans try to digest and ponder over the Geiger fiasco ― wrought on this nation by Transport minister Joram Gumbo and his erstwhile nephew Mugabe ― examples of these painful moments in our rich, but poor nation are too many to mention.

These include Wicknell Chivayo’s $200 million Gwanda solar project, where the “fat-cat tender-preneur” simply pocketed a cool $7 million and only “erected two shacks” on the project site in Matabeleland South.

It doesn’t matter whether one is in Burma, Syria, North Korea or Mugabe’s banana republic or pariah state ― as rightly acknowledged by Mnangagwa a week ago ― it is simply unacceptable for one to take and squander public resources like that while national development is stunted.

So, as Zimbabweans eagerly await a much-need turnaround of the economy and relief from myriad socio-economic pressures, we applaud the new administration’s bold path and policy stance, including the cancellation of the Austrian firm’s contract. This process may also include uprooting incompetent officials in the next government who would have favoured these non-performing contractors.

We not only believe Chiwenga’s statements are a vindication of our April 12 headline ― that he must have seriously influenced the president’s actions ― but the sort of actions for any responsible leader to take if Harare is to experience any serious sense of growth and realise the $11 billion in investment pledges.

And while there is every reason to “celebrate these positive pronouncements, The Financial Gazette would like to challenge Mnangagwa and the body politic that is Zanu PF to follow-up this rhetoric on so many projects.

While there has been a sad situation in this country and where bona fide investors are frustrated for “rent-paying tender-preneurs”, we believe the Bulawayo statements are a good starting point, if not building block, for this badly-needed trajectory for our battered nation! And this is the perfect time to restore Zimbabwe’s legacy, Mr President, and extricate it from that 20 year-medieval state.