HARARE – In spite of claims by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that his first 100 days in office have been successful, analysts are not convinced, citing the plight of the long-suffering majority of Zimbabweans which has remained unchanged.
Mnangagwa was installed president on November 24, 2017 after a military-aided operation that deposed long-ruling Robert Mugabe.
Upon occupying the top job, the former long-time Mugabe ally promised to do things differently from his 94-year-old predecessor — blamed for ruining Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy during his 37-year long barren rule.
In an inauguration speech — punctuated with promises of facilitating investment and business growth, re-engaging the international community and job creation – Mnangagwa gave himself 100 days to start working his “magic” in fixing Zimbabwe’s broken economy.
The 100 days lapse this week.
While Mnangagwa has rated his short period in office as a huge success, political analysts canvassed by the Daily News early this week had different views.
Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said Mnangagwa has been a failure so far, with his most substantive achievement being his removal of Mugabe from office.
He said Zimbabweans’ expectations were that, by this time, Mnangagwa must have addressed five critical areas of contestations in Zimbabwean politics namely; “the electoral field, judiciary packing and independence, the legislative issues to do with oppressive laws, the media and most importantly the socio-economic question”.
“Mnangagwa’s government has so far failed to address these areas of contestations, therefore he has failed,” Ruhanya argued.
“Since the fall of Mugabe, people’s livelihoods have not improved and Mnangagwa is not serious about tackling corruption because his Cabinet is 70 percent packed with corrupt elements”.
In contrast, Mnangagwa boasted while evaluating himself on his stint that it had been a “time of action” on his part.
“On the economy we passed a bold, responsible budget that cut swathes of waste, scaled back the Indigenisation Act to open the economy to investment, facilitated greater use of mobile money to combat the cash crisis and cut excise duty on petrol and small bank transfers,” Mnangagwa said.
He also pointed out that he has adopted zero tolerance to corruption and made his ministers to declare their assets to ensure accountability to the public.
“We have instituted a three-month amnesty to recover stolen funds and established anti-corruption courts in all provinces and clamped down on police roadblocks,” he said.
On the international front, Mnangagwa said his administration had managed to secure investment commitments amounting to $3 billion from “some of the biggest companies in the world”.
“In terms of human development, we have ensured free health care for vulnerable groups while increasing health and education budgets dramatically,” he said.
Mnangagwa said it was not realistic to achieve all he had promised in just a hundred days, given the work at hand.
“I know there are those among you who are frustrated with the pace of change and I understand them. But let me assure you that though we had major achievements, this is just the beginning. After 100 days of action, we are on the right path. We keep working to increase the pace of reform,” he said.
This, however, comes as Mnangagwa is under pressure from Parliament and the general public to fire Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu who was the Mines minister between 2009 and 2013, when the country is believed to have lost $15 billon in diamond revenue.
Ruhanya accused Mnangagwa of mimicking Mugabe’s style of administration, which was hinged on the national security apparatus to muzzle opposing voices in a bid to retain power.
He warned that the forthcoming general elections could be violent because of this calling on Zimbabweans to “remember that it was Mnangagwa and his team of military leadership that is in power today that blocked a democratic breakthrough in 2008 through organised State violence to stop opposition victory”.
“This is the same cabal at the helm of the State and people should expect more brutal soft and hard tactics as well as the harvest of fear by this ruthless cabal,” Ruhanya said.
“I expected him to address the militarisation of public and electoral institutions that remain a thorny issue but he has not done so because it benefits him,” he added.
Respected Professor of World Politics School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London, Steven Chan, told the Daily News that while almost all of Mnangagwa’s initiatives point in the right direction “they are five years late”.
“These were five years when Zanu PF did nothing and because it is such a late start there is no critical mass apparent in the new policies,” Chan said.
“He cannot succeed without much more money injected into the system, and the international community is waiting for signals of real change,” he said, adding that “some very big heads need to roll on the corruption issue. And the elections must be clean so that a government then given money is demonstrably accountable”.
Renowned economist Tony Hawkins dismissed Mnangagwa’s fight against corruption as “the law is being applied selectively targeting perceived former Generation 40 functionaries and that doesn’t help”.
“The use of plastic money cannot be viewed as a success because that has always been there,” Hawkins argued.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, bemoaned the “secrecy” surrounding some of the investment deals that Mnangagwa’s government has inked so far.
“He has not shown any transparency in the $3 billion investment deals he claims. No one knows the identity of the investors nor has he been courageous enough to declare the agreements, yet history has taught us that such secret investments benefit those involved and not the country,” Saungweme said, citing a recent announcement by Mines minister Winston Chitando of a $1,4 billion lithium deal, “which the minister refused to name the foreign investor”.
“They must not throw figures in the air, in most cases the public is misled when they hear $1,4 billion they think this is what the State will receive when in reality this refers to the equipment and capital related expenses,” Saungweme said.
Mnangagwa’s opposition rivals have also marked him down.
Former Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson Macdonald Lewanika described Mnangagwa’s time in office as “hundred days of talk, promises and commitments”.
“The president has said some progressive things and claimed some good commitments but on the action front, no bold steps against corruption have been taken, no bold cuts on government spending have been seen — instead the president has really taken to the skies like a duck to water and the patronage machine has continued to be oiled through gifts to chiefs and so on,” Lewanika said.
He added that while good intentions have been shown through the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Mnangagwa has not shown appetite to repeal repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act from the statutes.
“The president and his regime are fruits of the poisoned tree to escape their inevitable status of poisoned fruit they need to do more than talk. So far, ED has been a man of many words and little action, we need fewer words and more action — men of words without deeds are like a garden full of weeds, no one needs it,” Lewanika said.
Former Education minister Jonathan Moyo — a member of the Generation 40 cabal whom Mnangagwa has vowed never to forgive — posted on Twitter: “YOUR 100 days in stolen office through a #bloodymilitarycoup on 15/11/17 have shown that an ILLEGITIMATE & UNCONSTITUTIONAL govt like yours can’t deliver legitimate outcomes to the people. #CoupMakers can SAY but can’t DO the right things due to their ILLEGITIMACY!”