Zimbabwe’s expectations are high, justifiably so

Zimbabwe’s expectations are high, justifiably so
Published: 05 September 2018 (365 Views)
Since November 24 last year when President Mnangagwa assumed office following the resignation of Mr Robert Mugabe, expectations have been high for him to change Zimbabwe's complexion and turn around its fortunes after years of decline.

President Mnangagwa has just won a fresh mandate for himself and the expectations are equally high. Interestingly, his performance since November has been subjected to raging debates and his delivery in the new mandate will be watched closely. What is in President Mnangagwa's in-tray?

The expectations outlined in this piece are few regarding Zimbabwe's economy and what the populace wants to see achieved over the short-to-medium term. They constitute items of the new President "to-do-list".

After forming a new Government, the President's most important task will be to unite the country. This will not be easy after such an aggressive and polarising election campaign. But Zimbabweans need to pursue the national interest as a united people.

Three decades of Mugabe's rule have left economic development lagging behind many other countries in the region. The negative heritage will weigh heavily on President Mnangagwa. He inherited a sluggish economy.

The immediate impact of his economic policies may be modest as liquidity shortages continue. President Mnangagwa worked in the last eight months to lay the foundations upon which to build the edifice of a modern and prosperous Zimbabwe. It should go without saying that his priority will be to put Zimbabwe back on the road to economic recovery and growth.

The expectation is that the Government will continue to improve efficiency and bring more transparency in governance. The President is expected to set working standards and level of service that Government needs to provide to the people. It is anticipated Government will implement "e-Government services", which will solve the problems of accessibility, transparency, delayed services, and invariably reduce burden on its officials and at the same time save time and money.

Of great importance will be need to provide a "grievances and feedback" process for services received as this will facilitate informed decision making, informed strategic changes in administration, and provide evidence-based assessment tools. Dynamism and innovation should be inculcated in the administration. Government should come up with new plans for the development of the State. They need to apply various new and modern ideas to take Zimbabwe to new heights.

State finances are stretched, which will make it hard for President Mnangagwa to spend his way to popularity. His austerity policy programmes may raise the risk of deeper economic pain in the near future.

The citizenry expects that his Government will consider the difficult time and start making sacrifices on Government comforts and luxuries. In terms of the operations of Government bureaucracy and policy, it will be key to have clear-cut policies that are implemented without equivocation or contradictions.

In the first eight months, the President emphasised the importance of policy consistency and coherence. Government has in the past stalled policies, reversed them and in some instances ministers have contradicted each other. The confusion around the indigenisation law is a case in point. The good thing is that when President Mnangagwa came, in he did a lot in terms of rationalising the law.

On the main, Government should speed up the pace of different stalled and on-going infrastructural projects.

The slow pace of these projects affect the working of the different sectors of the State. Zimbabwe's experience of corruption is troubling and continues to be a blight on the country's record towards economic, social and political progress. How the President addresses corruption will be closely watched in the days to come. There should be an end to the menace of corruption.

Corruption is present everywhere in our State, be it politics, Government, business and so on. It will be a wonderful step by the Government if they manage to stop this menace. Just as well, the President is in China where he attended the Focac Summit along with other African heads of state. Taking the cue from China's ruthless punishment of corruption is critical.

It is important to learn from Chinese President Xi Jinping's mantra of catching the flies and tigers when it comes to corruption. In the past eight months, President Mnangagwa has been the chief investments promoter, and he has been a refreshing and prolific practitioner in attracting FDI.

Several deals have been signed and President Mnangagwa claims that $16 billion deals have been signed since he came into office. Investor sentiment improved immensely, but the Government needs to consistently send positive signals to investors.

It will be critical to operationalise these mega deals so that Zimbabwe's situation can be salved. This includes unemployment, which is high in the formal sector and has potential of brain draining our creative talent. Youths who don't find employment despite their best efforts get frustrated and lead some into crime and drug addiction. Government should generate more employment avenues for the unemployed, especially the youth.

To make this happen, Government has to help revive the manufacturing sector and focus on manufacturing-led growth. The SME sector contributes to manufacturing, exports and employment in a big way and, therefore, should be vigorously promoted. Balanced urban and rural development is the need of the hour. Government should work equally for both the urban and the rural areas and bring down the disparity between them.

It is vital that Government sustains the good work in the areas of agriculture. In accordance with the requirements for balancing urban and rural development, they need to solve problems hindering industrialisation, agriculture and rural modernisation.

It is encouraging that the President has committed to implement full devolution that will see all provinces starting to be development-oriented and produce benefits for its all citizens. Social development is about improving the well-being of every individual in society so they can reach their full potential. The success of society is linked to the well-being of each and every citizen.

Public healthcare at all levels need better service, medicine, infrastructure, and more trained staff. Clean and adequate water supply is a dire need for the majority of our population. Intentional and long-term effort is required from Government to address this issue. These issues - and more - make for what the whole nation is losing sleep over. Zimbabwe's expectations are high - and justifiably so.

Nyamazana is a South African-based economist and developer of the Mnangagwa Polimeter (https://mnangagwameter.polimeter.org) a resource that seeks to track Government progress on its promises.

- the herald

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