This time around, ED must be more serious

Source: This time around, ED must be more serious – The Standard August 5, 2018

Last Friday, Nelson Chamisa declared that he would be challenging his electoral loss to Emmerson Mnangagwa, and even promised his supporters that change was still coming. His latter statement is unbelievable and made him sound like that false Pentecostal prophet who is always telling his followers that they will be delivered from their burdens all the time they come to church.

Corruption watch WITH TAWANDA MAJONI

The point is, this is not Kenya where there had to be a presidential election re-run last year. Take a close look at ED, the president-elect. Does his body language and words show you that he is budgeting for a re-run or run-off? In any case, all the African observer missions, like I predicted last week, have in essence endorsed the polls, and so has the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. So, only pathological optimists will believe things will change.

My point is, Mnangagwa is as certain to be inaugurated as the president of the Second Republic as the sun will rise from the east. That is the conversation that must seize our attention. And here is the time to focus on what he must or musn’t do, starting with his first 100 days in office.

The last time Mnangagwa framed his initial 100 days in office after pushing out Robert Mugabe in November, he moulded such a big pie in the sky it came down crashing on him and almost cost him the presidency in last week’s elections. He said he would fight corruption but, in fact, slightly added to that. Who has forgotten that he allowed Marry, the wife of his coup sidekick and deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, to wrest a consultancy to provide travel services to the president without going to tender and without any good reason for even thinking about it?

He said he would change the work ethic in the civil service, but those guys are still making tea the moment they get into the office. He declared that he would arrest externalisers of foreign currency who were bleeding the economy. All he did was to draft a winding list of purported culprits that has probably been condemned to the Pomona junkyard. The list is far much longer than this, of course.

I am not sure if ED is too keen to do another 100-day work frame since the first one left him with sludge on the face and burnt his fingers. But that doesn’t mean he musn’t do a second one. In fact, he must come up with another version, which this time ought to be serious and nothing like a comical public relations stunt.

The first thing he must address is transparency and accountability within the executive, starting with him. The president ought to declare his assets. I have a net gut hunch that Mnangagwa can make the economy tick. He has a nose for money, in a broad sense. That means he can bring the much yearned for investment that will revive the economy, create jobs and make people relatively satisfied. But that doesn’t imply that he will always keep his own fingers away from the cookie jar. This makes it imperative for us to know what he and his family own, so as to enable us to determine the variance in the coming years.

His deputies must do the same, so should all key persons in the bureaucracy. Signals during the post-Mugabe establishment were distressing. Then, the Mnangagwa administration attempted to force senior civil service employees to declare their assets but, intriguingly, forgot to include members of the presidium. We are not brooking sacred cows. What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander. Zimbabwe is not Animal Farm.

The second pillar of ED’s sequel first 100 days in office must be around the cabinet he is likely to name soon. He must choose people who will do the job, not those offensively useless cronies that he burdened us with between November and now. I will jump into bed with my boots on if the next cabinet will include such people like Obert Mpofu and Joram Gumbo. They are tainted. We still require answers from Mpofu over the multi-billion diamond dollars that we lost between 2009 and 2015. Gumbo is yet to tell us what that circus relating to the dodgy Zimbabwe Airways outfit was all about. It’s bad enough that Mnangagwa failed to act on that humongous scandal, but it will break our backs if he were to retain Gumbo. And, frankly, it will break his own political career too.

Next, Mnangagwa must clearly tell us what he will do with the obviously overbearing military factor in government. The army wields a dangerous sense of entitlement for having managed to kick Mugabe out of power. It has grown to believe that the sun shines through its bowels. Naturally, it must get the credit for managing to remove Mugabe who, as it were, was set to rule Zimbabwe from beyond the grave. No other person or institution could do that yet most of us agree that he just had to go. But the army belongs to the barracks if there is no war, and there is no war in Zimbabwe.

Failing to rein in the military has disastrous implications. If he is not careful, Mnangagwa will end up being powerless despite being the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. In the main, soldiers rule by the gun. That is called dictatorship. Leave it or not, Chiwenga remains the face of the army. He became a soldier at a young age during the liberation struggle. Give him the credit for that. He remained a serving soldier till 2017. It may be difficult for the soldier in him to get out. And he may still remain thinking and doing things as if he is still in charge of the army.

His presence in government gives many people the goose pimples. He verbally fired thousands of nurses for complaining about their working conditions not long ago. He seemed to be defending soldiers who were deployed to manage post-election protests that resulted in six deaths last week. He still talks tough, just as soldiers do. It may then be worthwhile to reconsider keeping him in cabinet. Without doubt, Chiwenga is a hero for having laid out his neck during the November power takeover. Many people might not immediately appreciate this, but he sired the freedoms that Zimbabweans are enjoying in the post-Mugabe era.

Ten months ago, it was unthinkable that the opposition could enjoy so much space and people could talk so loudly against the government. But the soft coup brought quite a number of positive changes that we must acknowledge without apology. However, if the soldier in Chiwenga persists, we may not continue enjoying those spaces. He may, on the other hand, be useful as some kind of technical expert. And he can put his hand to use writing a book about how the soft coup happened. He has a doctorate after all. If he remains in government, he just has to shed the military Chiwenga.

It doesn’t end there. Mnangagwa needs to pronounce himself clearly on how he will deal with corruption, and start dealing with the malaise. All the culprits are still walking in the sun. These include people who served in his transitional administration too. He needs to get more serious with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and tell us how it will relate with the seemingly sleepy anti-graft unit he set up in the Office of the President and Cabinet recently.

He must retrieve the list of money externalisers and get the courts busy. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe must start singing on how it’s letting large sums of money get onto the black market and there should be an expose’ of all tender scams. All outstanding oral hearings relating to corruption ought to be cleared by the incoming Parliament.

I am not sure why Mnangagwa has for so long worked hard to become our president, sometimes at the risk of limb and life. But what I know for certain is that he has a heavy burden to prove that he is worthy of that position, and the best thing for him to do is to start leading Zimbabwe well.

Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust and can be contacted on