Mugove Tafirenyika 24 March 2019
ON three occasions, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured, has been
forced to cut short his foreign trips to attend to pressing matters back
home – raising questions about the quality of advice he is getting from
those around him.
In January, Mnangagwa abandoned his annual holiday after his deputy
Constantino Chiwenga failed to contain a strike by junior doctors which
had paralysed the health sector.
The job action had started a month earlier, well before Mnangagwa’s
In the same month, he was again forced to cut short another foreign tour
to attend to a national crisis after the army was deployed to crush
protesters, resulting in the death of 16 unarmed civilians around the
Mnangagwa, who was seeking much-needed foreign investment on his tour, had
to pass plans to attend the Davos summit of world leaders, after visiting
Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
Only last week, with the country reeling from the devastation wreaked by
Cyclone Idai, Mnangagwa was again forced to cut short his trip to the
United Arab Emirates.
Opinion has been split with regards the justification for the trips, with
government critics saying taxpayer’s money was being expended on useless
Mnangagwa’s backers insist the trips have resulted in fresh investments
for the country, while also aiding Zimbabwe in its re-engagement efforts.
But analysts opined this week that Mnangagwa’s team of advisors could be
misleading him into embarking on foreign travels at a time of turmoil back
They argue that Mnangagwa should leave globe-trotting to foreign Affairs
minister Sibusiso Moyo and other diplomats so that he concentrates on
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the fact that most of the
disasters would have been foreseen on the heels of his trips would seem to
suggest that the president’s advisors are clueless.
“It’s a tragedy that a leader leaves the country in the wake of the
cyclone disaster or the wake of ravaging street protests. After all there
is no evidence that those trips are bringing anything home,” he said.
Ricky Mukonza, a South Africa-based political commentator, said the
pattern emerging was that each time the president travels, disaster
Mukonza said the “ruthless” manner in which government reacted to the
protests for example was a public relations disaster for Mnangagwa which
could be “difficult to turn around in the coming elections”.
“In most of these cases, the president has taken wrong decisions, that is,
he has continued with the trips instead of prioritising solving the
domestic mishaps,” Mukonza said, suggesting further that “this has
worsened perceptions on his image as a leader”.
“It has perpetuated the view that he is an uncaring leader who is in the
position for his own personal enjoyment and interests and not to serve the
people. Whilst questions may be asked about the quality of advice the
president is receiving, it also talks to his judgment as a leader. In
Shona there is a saying `Zano pangwa uine rako’ (it’s always good to get
advice when you have your own views), all what has happened in a big way
reflects how the president thinks and where his priorities are”.
Piers Pigou of the International Crisis Group advised that Mnangagwa
“should stay home in most instances and deploy ministers in the current