The Sunday Mail
Lovemore Ranga Mataire
The usual opposition cynics are employing all manner of tactics to blight the impact of reforms being implemented by President Mnangagwa.
However, as is the case with any skulduggery antics, the parody falls away when concrete facts are laid bare.
A fact that is unlikely to be missed by independent observers is that President Mnangagwa’s transformational agenda is predicated upon the desire to create a usable past within a changing present so as to secure a liveable future.
Given the damage inflicted on the economy in the last two decades or so by the previous administration, securing the envisaged liveable future is never an overnight event.
This is precisely the reason why President Mnangagwa has consistently called upon all Zimbabweans to refrain from being fixated on divisive political rancour and focus on issues that bring the economy to life.
It is crucial to remind each other that despite efforts by some disparagers, President Mnangagwa has so far instituted far-reaching reforms and has continued remodelling the governance structure to make it efficient and people-centred.
Zimbabweans have long raised concern about a bloated Cabinet — a peculiarity often associated with the previous regime of former President Mugabe.
And as a listening President, ED has not only made the Cabinet leaner and more efficient, but has made a bold decision of redeploying some long-time allies to the ruling Zanu-PF party.
In came newer, fresher and technocratic-minded individuals in the mould of Kirsty Coventry (Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture), Mthuli Ncube (Finance), Sekai Nzenza (Public Service), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Industry), Joel Biggie Matiza (Transport), Kazembe (ICT) and other new faces — Sibusiso Busi Moyo (Foreign Affairs), Perrance Shiri (Agriculture).
The idea of a leaner Cabinet is meant to reduce profligacy, bring efficiency and spur economic growth. In trimming the Cabinet, President Mnangagwa has reduced unnecessary expenditure, limited foreign travel and perks for officials and retired or redeployed some senior staff.
The Civil Service
Having set up a leaner Cabinet, President Mnangagwa moved in to rationalise the civil service by retiring individuals that had reached retirement age and ensured that each individual is fit for purpose.
Off went Mariyawanda Nzuwah —the long-time Public Service Commission chairperson — and in came Vincent Hungwe who assumed the position on June 1 2018.
Nzuwah had spent 26 years at the helm of the Public Service Commission after succeeding Malcolm Thompson in 1992.
Many have surely not forgotten Tobaiwa Mudede, whose long reign at the Registrar-General’s Office personified the lethargy and haughtiness typical of individuals intoxicated with power to the extent of viewing themselves as bigger than the institution they lead.
The departure of Mudede was received with jubilation by the majority of Zimbabweans who felt his continued stay was not in tandem with the New Dispensation’s modernisation thrust.
Besides retiring the likes of Mudede and Nzuwah, the Government initiated a process of retiring 3 384 youth officers from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. The retiring of the youth officers will surely give breathing relief to the already overburdened national purse.
But that’s not all. Civil servants are to go through a biometric registration exercise that will weed out ghost workers.
The new system is to ensure that every person being paid by Government for services rendered is properly accounted for.
One of the institutions that needed urgent reform was the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which had become an institution much reviled by the public for a myriad of reasons.
Led by Commissioner-General Chihuri, the ZRP had literally become the law unto itself. If there was one institution that had become an object of ridicule and revulsion from members of the public in the First Republic, it was the police.
Its Commissioner-General had become so unpopular that he was booed by people who attended President Mnangagwa’s inauguration on 26 August 2018.
Chihuri had become so unpopular for allowing numerous roadblocks on the country’s roads.
The ubiquitous roadblocks were blamed for scarring away international tourists and most motorists viewed the presence of police as more of a fundraising activity than maintaining law and order.
Until his forced retirement, Chihuri was the longest serving police chief after assuming the helm of the police in 1993.
He had replaced Commissioner Henry Mukurazhizha in 1991 on an acting capacity before becoming substantive police commissioner in 1993. In 2008, Chihuri was appointed Commissioner-General when the post was created to replace that of Commissioner.
Chihuri has since been replaced by Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga in a move welcomed by most Zimbabwe across the social and political strata.
The University of Zimbabwe
But ED’s audacious quest for a clean slate was not just limited to critical institutions of governance. Higher and tertiary education institutions, particularly the University of Zimbabwe, had become notorious for corruptly awarding dubious degrees to favoured political players.
In his pursuit of cleaning up national institutions, President Mnangagwa on August 17 2018 suspended University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura pending finalisation of allegations of abuse of office.
Prof Nyagura faces allegations of facilitating the conferment of a Doctor of Philosophy degree on former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe.
Professor Paul Mapfumo took over in an acting capacity.
The suspension of Prof Nyagura paved the way for a re-birth of the institution, itself a prime symbol of national pride and excellence. The institution is famed for churning out academic products and intellectuals who have gone to excel on the world stage.
State entities like Air Zimbabwe, Grain Marketing Board (GMB), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) have also not been spared.
As recent as last week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists that Cabinet had resolved to proceed with the acquisition of four Boeing 777 aircraft from Malaysia and to work on the expeditious delivery of the Embraer aircraft purchased in the USA.
Much to the chagrin of ED’s detractors, the new planes are expected to add fresh impetus in opening Zimbabwe to investment and boost local tourism and trade. At the GMB, the Cabinet resolved to split the entity into two — one dealing with the commercial aspects, while the other deals with the strategic grain reserve function.
Drastic changes are also set to be implemented at Zesa, where different units are to merge into a “single vertically integrated company”.
The move is meant to reduce costs and lethargy associated with a bloated structure that is top heavy.
All the initiatives being implemented by President Mnangagwa are in tandem with the Public Enterprise Reform Framework for 2018-2020 under the auspices of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).
The TSP feeds into the President’s Vision 2030 meant to transform Zimbabwe into an Upper Middle-Income economy. Ultimately, the State enterprise reform agenda will see a better private sector-led economy.
Some State entities have surely outlived their commercial viability or necessity.
Huge sums of money have in the past been spent cushioning struggling State-owned enterprises, some of which need to undergo complete privatisation.
Rebuild the Nation Campaign
After years of international isolation and economic stagnation, what President Mnangagwa is doing is spearheading a “Rebuild the Nation” campaign anchored on foundational cardinals of peace, security, development and opening and entrenching the democratic space.
It is an inescapable task of statesmanship to create a nation with a burning sense of national pride and loyalty — a well informed and responsible populace possessed of an intense conviction that there is no place like Zimbabwe.
In the advent of information technology and its attendant apparatus of social media, a large chunk of a nation’s citizenry now literally depend on mediated information in shaping their perception of reality.
Sadly, some, if not most, lack requisite skills in navigating the intricate web of this virtual reality commonly referred to as the cyberspace.
The internet creates a crisis of boundaries between real and the virtual, with rampant manipulation of reality through rehashing of old videos and narratives to sway public opinion on a particular issue.
Not many are endowed with media literacy skills to decipher fact and bluster. Social media consumers have had to put up with an avalanche of trash and trivia often packaged within a misplaced context.
However, despite these obvious hurdles, President Mnangagwa does not seem perturbed and has continued to pursue his reform agenda meant to bring about an economic renaissance.
President Mnangagwa’s detractors are panicking because they are fully aware the successful implementation of the reforms will result in less dissatisfaction and disgruntlement by citizens and do away with the protest vote and a permanent state of agitation.
It is also true that political reforms that advocate for tolerance lessen hostility and combativeness, which is a raison d’etre of a belligerent opposition.
There is also no point in guessing that a reformed Zanu-PF which is at peace with the West removes the need and agency of the opposition as a tool of external interference.
The MDC-Alliance and its cohorts are conscious of the fact that a reformed Zanu-PF pre-empts the opposition party as an alternative.
In short, a reformed Government and a reformed revolutionary party and the assured attendant positive outcome literally makes the MDC-Alliance and all other opposition irrelevant ahead of the 2023 plebiscite.
Zimbabweans, both home and abroad, need to disabuse themselves of perennial pessimism.
Zimbabweans must never allow petty squabbles, instability and bigotry to get the better of their sense of oneness.
Citizens must be willing to employ efforts that create a better future for posterity.
President Mnangagwa by word and deed is a man of great bravery propelled by the courage of his convictions in promoting the necessary social, political and economic changes.
The sooner the President’s detractors are to disabuse themselves of their dystopian nightmares, the better for everyone.