PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has been in power for the past 12 months since the August 22 2018 Constitutional Court ruling following the opposition MDC’s appeal against his electoral victory.
Mnangagwa has been urged to move with greater urgency to restore the spending power of the average Zimbabwean as he clocks one year since assuming office.
This comes on the back of economic hardships made worse by stagnant salaries whose spending power has significantly reduced to what it was six months ago.
Since assuming power in August 2018 Mnangagwa has been battling to contain an enormous budget deficit, polarised nation and endemic corruption.
He took over promising change and progressive steps towards a more democratic future, after 37 years of Robert Mugabe iron-fist rule.
“In many ways the first year of the new Government elected in August 2018 has been disappointing. The reason is not so much the general direction taken but the slowness of action on many deliverables that were promised,” Economist Eddie Cross told Zim Morning Post.
“I am very happy with the overall policy direction adopted and with what has been achieved so far but the cost in terms of human suffering has been pretty severe and is now creating the possibility of real instability.
“But let’s not lose sight of the very considerable achievements: They have brought the fiscal deficit under control and imposed real discipline on the budget. They have reduced government expenditure – but not enough. They have allowed inflation to devalue the mountain of debt taken over from the Mugabe regime – we cannot do that with external liabilities but can do it for local debt and this has reduced domestic debt to manageable levels.”
Cross added that Mnangagwa’s government has boosted export earnings and reduced imports – leading to a balance of payments surplus for the first time since Independence.
“They have begun servicing our debt – both external and internal and have secured a IMF SMP in record time,” he continued.
“They have started the long road to re-engagement with the global community. They have started to deal with corruption and to restore faith in our legal system. They have made a start to National healing and reconciliation. They have begun the task of creating a market driven economy and a free market for foreign exchange,” he concluded.
Harare car dealer Taurai Chiwetu insisted change was not an overnight process.
“We must, of course, be realistic and recognise that it takes more than a year to recover the economy,” Chiwetu said.
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, opined Mnangagwa’s tenure has been a mixed bag but insisted it was evident “most people are disappointed by the government performance.”
“He over promised and under delivered and that is a source of anger – what we are witnessing in demos being banned. Those are expressions of despair, expressions which are not finding an outlet,” Masunungure said.
Speaking as Mnangagwa has called for patience, citing years of economic decline Masunungure said one would need a magnifying glass to see where positives have been recorded.
“The public has been feeling the pain with the exception of a small clique at the top of the business, political domain and economic domain. It may be right to say that he inherited a corpse but he promised to resuscitate that corpse. With salaries stagnant and prices skyrocketing there is a sense of pessimism which is a groundswell for discontent.”
MDC T Vice President Obert Gutu felt the situation in Zimbabwe was never going to be easy for Mnangagwa.
“I would say that considering that we are coming out of a fully fledged dictatorship we are still going through painfull stages of being born into a multi-party democracy and the biggest challenge the government has faced is that the old order is still intact,” he said.
Writing in foreignpolicy.com, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said since the election of a new government for Zimbabwe one year ago, the administration of Mnangagwa has begun reforming land policies, changing laws, and commencing a new compensation initiative to address the injustices of the recent past.
“First, compensation is currently being paid to the families of victims and will be completed by the end of the year. Second, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act has been repealed and is being replaced by three bills to further promote freedom of expression,” he wrote, adding:
“Third, the Public Order and Security Act—criticized for impinging on freedom of assembly—is being superseded by the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, which shall bring security forces entirely under the democratic control of the government.
“And finally, essential reforms have begun in the police and military units: The Codes of Conduct have been rewritten, and retraining—particularly in relation to human rights in policing and service to citizens in law enforcement—is under way.”
The reform agenda has also been met with resistance. Although international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has applauded the Mnangagwa administration for biting a bullet by adopting austerity measures, the man in the streets is feeling the hit such that if elections were to be held today Zanu PF was going to lose.
Mnangagwa has made it clear that it will not be an easy road. Commenting after Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced a series of measures to reform and revive the economy, Mnangagwa said:
“I have read your comments and understand the difficulties many face, and Government will do all in its power to minimise them. We are already taking the lead by cutting back on unnecessary spending.
“The only way to a stronger economy is to restructure, rebuild and reform. We must all be realistic. Whatever some may claim, there are no silver bullets or quick fixes.”
“The road is long, winding and at times bumpy, but there is no other way. This is the road to a middle-income economy, and if we travel it together, with patience and purpose, we will realise our vision.”
–Zim Morning Post