President Mnangagwa's inauguration and assumption of power ignited a sense of optimism in both Zimbabwe and most of the progressive world following years of socio-economic regression and hopelessness. The people expected a turnaround of the economy which would, in turn, improve the quality of their livelihoods through increased job opportunities. Following two decades of severe economic hardships the people of Zimbabwe expected a change to a better life – and they wanted it as soon as the last five years.
One year later society is divided among the progressive, the optimistic and the pessimistic over the progress which the new administration has made so far. Some successes have been registered in the one short year while a lot of work still awaits to be done or is in progress. The private media and most of opposition political parties and their members are driving the pessimistic agenda which they are using to discredit President Mnangagwa and his administration.
The pessimists and detractors' main rallying point has been the economy with the recent spate of arbitrary commodity price increases, fuel and commodity shortage and unemployment being used to mount idle criticism of Government with no meaningful solutions being offered. The economic challenges which the country is facing have come in handy to the opposition, which is still smarting from its electoral loss during the last harmonised election, to divert its restive members' attention from the debilitating defeat that they blame on President Mnangagwa's presidential election main contender, MDC-T Chamisa faction, Nelson Chamisa.
The critics are also using the slow recovery of the manufacturing sector to slate President Mnangagwa despite the fact that the economy deteriorated to its current state over two decades. In all fairness, one cannot be expected to turn around such an economy in just twelve months. The twenty years of economic hardship have increased the pressure on the people to expect a quick relief and the President understands that. He, however, needs to strike a balance between addressing the people's expectations and ensuring that they are alive to the fact that economic success cannot be achieved in a flash. This is why he explained during his inauguration on 26 August this year that this would not be achieved overnight and that Zimbabweans needed to be patient.
The positive minded, while acknowledging the onerous task before President Mnangagwa and every Zimbabwean to turn the country's fortunes around, are confident of the President's ability to, not only restore Zimbabwe to its pre-2000 status as a successful and proud member of the global community of nations, but catapult it to the pinnacle of stability and economic growth.
When President Mnangagwa assumed office in November last year, he kept the previous Cabinet as much as possible to facilitate continuity but when he won his own mandate at the end of July, he dispensed with old dispensation's predictable retention of senior ZANU PF members. He came up with a refreshingly different Cabinet which is rich in terms of gender and age balance. The new Cabinet saw the appointment of non-ZANU PF members and technocrats such as the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube.
Gender imbalance has been one of the major complaints against the previous administration but this time around great strides have been made in addressing the social anomaly. Women such as Oppah Muchinguri and Monica Mutsvangwa are now at the helm of such powerful and influential portfolios as defence and information respectively. Former Zimbabwe Energy and Regulatory Authority (ZERA) Chief Executive Officer, Engineer Gloria Magombo was appointed to the position of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development as the President sought to address the concerns of the society.
The President's birthday, September 15, came and is now behind us and the following day many Zimbabweans scratched themselves in disbelief of the fact that gone and gone forever was the old tradition of perpetuating a personality cult around the person of the President by carrying out events such as the 21st February Movement celebrations which were held to mark Mugabe's birthday. This demonstrated that although the President shared ZANU PF membership and history with his predecessor, he is a different man with a burning zeal to see better Zimbabwe for every citizen irrespective of colour, creed or political affiliation.
Under the new dispensation, Government has committed itself to significantly reduce its expenditure through cutting expenses associated with foreign travel. Unlike the previous administration, the President and his officials have not only reduced the number of foreign trips to those which are really necessary but has also reduced the number of delegation members as a way of curbing unnecessary spending as well as improving good governance and ensuring sound prioritisation of resources.
Despite the renewing of sanctions of against Zimbabwe by the United States government in July this year, the President and his administration have jettisoned the sanctions as an excuse for the economic challenges. This is because he appreciates that merely using the mantra without coming up with sound strategies and actionable plans to turn the economy around would not take the country anywhere. He laughed the punitive measures off by stating that he would rather look inside Zimbabwe and give of his best to resolve its challenges than waste his attention and focus on America. Instead of crying in self-pity, the President has put in place a number of measures which include the privatisation and merging of parastatals to drive the ongoing economic turnaround. That his efforts are yet to fully turn the economy around does not mean that he has failed.
If the opposition was honest, it would be the first to attest to the dawn of a new political space and era which is characterised by tolerance of opposing ideologies and ideas. Chamisa has been at the forefront of criticising President Mnangagwa but should be the first to tell the world how, as a result of the opened up democratic space, he managed to chalk up the unprecedented record of over 80 rallies during the last election season, which is probably beats his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai's record.
One reason why critics and detractors are making the false claims that one year on the President has not succeeded are born of the fact that most people expect Government to do everything all by itself while they watch and rub hands in expectation. The undesirable economic circumstances, which Zimbabwe finds itself in, affect all people and, therefore, it behoves everyone to apply their shoulders to the wheel instead of politicking by pointing fingers. Unless people take responsibility for their own livelihoods by taking up opportunities and coming up with initiatives to turnaround their own lives, Government cannot do it for them. The furthest distance that it can go is creating a conducive and enabling environment for citizens to exploit their passions and talents for their own prosperity.
When pointing the index finger at someone, the pointer's four fingers point back at him or her. Similarly, as the opposition, detractors and retrogressive citizens point accusatory fingers at President Mnangagwa and his administration, they should know that they also have a responsibility for the success of their country and that the nation can only succeed if everyone pulls in the same direction.
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