Mnangagwa must walk the talk on reforms

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s first two months in office have been characterised by the message that Zimbabwe is open for business and ready to discard its disastrous investor-hostile tag.

Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
fzaba@zimind.co.zw

The message is rekindling economic fortunes that can drastically transform the country from being a pariah state into an economically vibrant one. His cunningness, if backed by pragmatism, can realign the current toxic economic environment, burdened by a debilitating liquidity crunch, dwindling investment inflows, company closures and massive job losses, among a plethora of constraints.

However, talk is cheap as the adage goes. There is an urgent need to complement rhetoric with action, especially when it comes to reforms. A number of reforms are still to be carried out to match the positive noises coming out from Munhumutapa Building.

Just this week, at a meeting with Alpha Media Holdings board members and senior management, Mnangagwa said his government was prepared to work with opposition political parties, independent media, people in the diaspora and investors outside the country, to build a nation that prides itself in peace and unity.

“The independent press should also do its work. It will be a sad day for democracy and the country if everyone was singing the same song,” he said.

While we commend him for saying he would not pursue a “vindictive agenda in the spirit of nation building”, there are simple things he can start to implement, which do not need money, such as media reforms.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) should be transformed into a truly independent public broadcaster, open to diverse views from Zimbabwe’s multi-sectoral populace. There is need to liberalise airwaves to promote healthy national debate.

The president should also assure Zimbabweans that he respects freedom of expression, both online and offline, by moving with speed in reviewing the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill to uphold digital rights instead of focussing on security concerns only.

After all, the bulk of these developments are low-hanging fruits that require insignificant amounts of resources to showcase to the world, if Zimbabwe is indeed breaking with its tainted past.

Electoral reforms should be addressed urgently given the announcement by Mnanagagwa that the polls will be held in five months’ time. Failure to do so leads to a disputed election that will further isolate the country as a rogue state.

The European Union and Australia have already indicated Zimbabwe will only receive significant funding after delivering a credible election. Reforms which entrench democracy and enhance economic growth are paramount if the country is to move forward.

Mnangagwa has a golden opportunity of not only changing the country’s narrative, but to leave an indelible legacy as the man who redeemed Zimbabwe from the economic abyss. Reforms make this attainable. The ball is in his court.

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