In his inauguration speech on November 24 last year President Emmerson Mnangagwa made the now famous statement that, “we must hit the ground running” and that those who cannot follow will be left behind.
By Muchesa Chatsama
Soon after his investiture he went on further to order all ministries to come up with 100-day plans, whose lifespan has not been clearly spelt out, but for purposes of this analysis I will start counting from a week after his installation, which is December 1 last year.
This gives us 90 days at the end of February, leaving us with only 10 days. To be precise, from my counting, the 100 days ended March 10. Mnangagwa also went on to give a three-month moratorium for those who externalised money to return it without any questions being asked.
That has since lapsed at the end of February. He also declared zero tolerance to corruption. These pronouncements, among many others, were received with a lot of optimism from the public whose suffering under the Mugabe era was untold. As part of behaviour modelling to indicate a new trajectory, we were also informed the President gets into office as early as 8am and also sometimes works during weekends and holidays.
It is only fair at this juncture to take stock of the journey so far under the so-called “New Dispensation”. I am hoping government takes this evaluation as an honest assessment from one representative of the people they govern. Sometimes it is important to be brutally honest to ourselves so that we leave our comfort zone. Denial always leads to serious maladaption, whose consequences, in turn, are grievous.
Let me begin by commenting on the 100 day plans ordered by Mnangagwa. One difficult thing, though, which I guess applies to many, if not all Zimbabweans, is that I am trying to evaluate something that was never made available to me. There is no single ministry that made its 100-day plans available to the public.
Or maybe, I missed it. If that is the case then apologies for the above claim. But all the same I am basing my judgement on the information that I came across. So far I have heard ministers or officials from their ministries commenting on activities as being “progress” towards the 100-day plan, mainly on news stories.
For instance, commenting,on ZBC on March 2, Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu highlighted the issue of the e-passport as “progress towards 100-day plan”. But then the million-dollar question, which I believe is being shared by many, is, “what are the other plans and what progress has been made?”
Mr President, this is surely not convincing. It is my suggestion that all ministries produce comprehensive reports detailing the plans and the achievements thereof for the public to judge them fairly. The public deserves to know. We cannot be content with these cosmetic comments.
“Hitting the ground running” means much more than this. Servant leadership, as you proclaimed during your installation, means accountability to the people you govern.
Related to the issue of the 100-day plan is the coverage of government programmes by the public media, which has shown no signs of reform since the new dispensation. There have hardly been news items on programmes in many ministries.
The only ministry that has gotten more than enough coverage is that of Foreign Affairs, whose minister Sibusiso Moyo is on ZBC news almost everyday. Other than this ministry, the only other person to get more coverage is First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who seems to have a dedicated ZBC news reporter for her.
While some may feel she is doing good work, I am of the view that too much projection of the First Lady’s work tends to portray Zimbabwe as a charity case. We have fully appointed ministers, who should oversee programmes in their ministries, unless they are doing nothing, in which case they are only justifying their irrelevance and the President must do the right thing — “relieve them”. We want serious ministers who “hit the ground running” as Mnangagwa proclaimed. The time for deadwood is long gone.
Then let me shift my attention to one of the most contentious issues in this country, corruption.
I think many Zimbabweans are as surprised as I am that three months down the line since the new administration took over no single high-profile corruption case has been concluded. On a scale of 10, I am giving the new government zero. I am just being objective. Figures do not lie.
With Zimbabwe ranked as one of the most corrupt countries, it is so confusing why cases are not being concluded. Why, Mr President? You have been consistent with the zero tolerance mantra, but what is on the ground is not speaking to your gospel.
Corruption in this country has become so cancerous that there is unanimity among Zimbabweans that it is one reason the country is where it is today and that it deserves priority. It is a matter for yesterday.
There is just no justification for not concluding corruption cases. That is what I understand by “zero tolerance”. However, I would have done injustice not to recognise the efforts of parliament in interrogating cases of corruption in such an intolerant matter. I can only say to parliament, “keep it up”. The public is fully behind you.
One issue that was urgent upon assumption of office by the new administration was the availability of cash. We all hoped cash would be available and that bank queues would quickly disappear. Three months down there is just no solution in place. The public has given up. For government to tell us that it has dealt with the cash problem through promoting “plastic and mobile money” is being insincere. The previous regime made the same claims. In that case it becomes an issue of a “black kettle calling a black pot black”. It is all the same.
Cash remains a challenge and the black market continues as if nothing has changed. Cash dealers remain on the streets as usual. Again on a scale of 10, I will score this government zero. This is obviously a sad story.
One other area that is worth talking about is government service. Forgive me for sounding so pessimistic. My experiences with government departments since the new administration has not really changed. I wrote in this column before, indicating that behavioural change in government institutions is one quick fix and that it is a matter of instruction from the leadership.
I still stick to that. If the leader speaks, people must follow. There are still queues which are tiresome in most government institutions. The service turnaround remains poor.
Treatment of the public, who are the consumers of government service, remains pathetic. Where is the “servant leadership”, Mr President? It must not only be practiced by you but by the totality of the people who occupy government offices. On this one there is need to flex muscles, Mr President. It is either officers “shape up, or ship out”.
Sometimes a leader must make unpopular decisions popular. Some kind of “Magufulification” in terms of decisiveness.
Everything said and done, it is my submission that there is still a lot to be done to move the country forward. One thing that we do not have in abundance is time.
Procrastination is the thief of time. Let us attend to what needs to be attended to with urgency. We still need electoral reforms before the elections which are due in a few months’ time.
The only way to judge performance is by the results. People may be running a lot, sweating a lot and getting tired, but where there are no tangible results, it simply means energy is being expended wrongly. I have always argued that Zimbabwe’s worst problem is failure to execute. We are full of talking and promises with no matching efforts. Mr President, the people of Zimbabwe will judge your success by tangible results that impact their lives in a positive way.
My thinking is that the country does not require a blue ocean strategy. All we need to do is implement those obvious things effectively. The overriding strategy in your government should just be one word, “doing”. Let us just do what has to be done.
Chatsama is the leading organisational development, training and leadership development consultant with ProSource Global Consultants. He is an expert in strategy and policy design. These weekly New Perspectives articles are co-ordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society. — firstname.lastname@example.org or cell +263 772 382 852.