ED’s 100 days and the 2018 election

Tau Tawengwa
All eyes are on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition politicians are taking every opportunity to mud-sling and critique his first 100 days in office.

Their claim is that “nothing has changed” and that the new Government has failed to fulfil its promises.

“Analysts” have pointed to the continuing cash crisis, price increases and general economic hardship as evidence that nothing has changed.

Yet things have been happening.

In his inaugural speech, President Mnangagwa assured the nation that he would take all necessary steps to bring economic relief to a weary citizenry.

Let us fairly assess how that has gone.

One centre of power

Under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, Zanu-PF’s Central Committee resolved to remove any notion of “one centre of power” from the ruling party’s constitution.

Although this was an internal party issue, it is also a preamble to the democratic roadmap that is being implemented by the new administration.

For those who care to remember, the “one centre of power” principle essentially gave imperial powers to the previous Zanu-PF leader, and prior to November 2017, it had inspired unprecedented lunacy and blasphemy in the ruling party.

“He is our Messiah. He is second to Jesus. He is our liberator. We honour God and you are our Jesus.”

Those were the kinds of things we were hearing of the then president, Mr Robert Mugabe, before November 24, 2017. That is what the “one centre of power” doctrine had amounted to – absolute power to an individual.

At least now, Zimbabwe is starting to feel like a democracy again.

Free, fair and credible

elections

I think it is fair to say that the removal of the “one centre of power” doctrine turned on the democratic light in the country after a long period of darkness.

Now, for the first time in many years, we have heard our Government committing to holding free, fair and credible elections.

We have also heard President Mnangagwa not only speak about peace and tolerance, but he has also welcomed international electoral monitors and observers from the United Nations and European Union.

“But now, with this new dispensation, I don’t feel threatened by anything. I would want the United Nations to come, the EU should come. If the Commonwealth were requesting to come, I am disposed to consider their application,” the President has said.

As far as I’m concerned, that is the biggest win yet, because the holding of free, fair and credible elections resonates with the President’s call that “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

The commitment to hold of free, fair and credible elections is, therefore, perhaps President Mnangagwa’s most significant 100-day success.

Open for business

After years of counter-progressive isolationism and consequent economic regression, it was refreshing to see us well represented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where our delegation reiterated the message that “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

While others might take it lightly, our maiden appearance in Davos was a major boost for the country and the near future looks bright.

While critics of the new dispensation strut about saying “nothing has changed”, I for one disagree saying our attitude as a country has changed.

Our leadership paradigm has now shifted and we are now looking in the right direction as a country.

One cannot expect a newborn baby to crawl, walk, talk, and read in its first 100 days.

Furthermore, citizens cannot expect the President to literally come to their houses and physically put food on their tables. If you are a businessperson, you cannot expect the President to come to your shop, market your business and do your accounts.

Put plainly, we as citizens should not expect to be spoon-fed by the new administration. We need to complement its efforts with sound strategy and hard work.

The best that the new administration can do for us all is to create an environment that is conducive for investment and for business to thrive.

As it stands, it is notable that our tourism authorities have anticipated that the visitors to Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls will increase by 30 percent between January and April 2018.

That is a sign that the Government’s work is bearing fruit.

Also, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce has recently stated that “in a nutshell there is a bright future for Zimbabwe’s economy to be trending in a northward direction after the Davos experience”.

In this light, our Government should continue positively marketing the country and follow through on its commitment to hold free and fair elections.

Going forward

Lately, there has been significant noise, particularly on social media, regarding the recently released information that 60 percent of registered voters are below the age of 40.

The resultant misconception is that because Nelson Chamisa is 40, then 60 percent of voters that are below 40 will automatically vote him.

That is not the case.

Firstly, there are a significant number of below 40 voters who are optimistic about the new dispensation.

I know some who are farmers, and beneficiaries of the Government’s Command Agriculture programme.

Last season, some farmers that I know managed to yield up to 21 tonnes per hectare on 200 hectares, meaning they made a gross profit of over a million dollars.

Now that’s what I call empowerment.

As a result, I seriously doubt that those ladies and gentlemen will vote for anything other than Zanu-PF in 2018.

The same applies to the approximately 300 000 families that are beneficiaries of the Command Agriculture programme and the one million households that benefited from the Presidential Inputs Scheme.

Even in the cities, I have perceived that sentiment is divided between the opposition and Zanu-PF.

This time round, many youths are willing to give Zanu-PF another term in office, while many others are disgruntled by the violence that has been occurring in the opposition ranks since Morgan Tsvangirai’s death.

It is a fallacy to say that because voters are predominately below 40, they will automatically vote for the opposition.

This time round, Zanu-PF could win a significant number of seats in the cities.

It is my view that people are hopeful, and generally supportive of the new administration. I think we can safely say that President Mnangagwa has done well under the circumstances.

Perhaps the most pinching discontentment among the citizenry is the persistent cash crisis.

If Government could expediently assist in making cash available in our banks it would bring welcome relief to the populace.

Other than that, so far so good.

If Zimbabwe continues on its current trajectory, we will certainly experience an economic boom in the near future.

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