AS the Constitutional Court delivers its judgement today on the disputed presidential poll held on July 30, what is clear is the herculean task the next inaugurated president faces in turning around the economy which is in the doldrums.
Editor’s Memo Faith Zaba
The ConCourt will bring finality MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s petition challenging the results of the presidential elections in which Mnangagwa was declared the winner.
Despite there being a dispute on the outcome of the polls, what is not in dispute is the need for whoever is declared winner to focus on breathing life into an economy blighted by a record-high unemployment rate of 95%, debilitating liquidity crunch, a severe cash shortage, low investment inflows, company closures and substantive job losses.
After the dust settles on the grueling ConCourt battle, the apex tribunal of the land, the next leader will have the onerous task of not only wooing investment and creating jobs, but also healing a nation that is clearly divided.
Whether it is Mnangagwa or Chamisa who is declared the winner, neither can ignore the massive support the other has. Both presidential candidates garnered more than two million votes in the July 30 elections.
This means the winner has to find ways to work with the losing candidate to seek solutions to the plethora of challenges the country faces.
The European Union (EU) and British diplomats are making efforts to persuade Zanu PF, if their leader is declared winner, to create a United Kingdom-style parliamentary opposition structure in Zimbabwe where the leader of the opposition and his chief of whip are paid by the state.
For it is only by pulling in one direction that the country can attain the much-needed funding from multi-lateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Only through unity of purpose can the country attract the much-needed investment that is needed to spur economic growth.
Outgoing EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme, in an exclusive interview with this paper in today’s edition, spels out what will be in the in-tray of the incoming president.
“You know that you have to gradually address the issue of property rights and security of tenure. You know that you have to sort out the ease of doing business and fight corruption in a credible way,” Van Damme said. “The IMF will have to engage the government on a reform package which will have to go to the board of the IMF and which will lead to an extended credit facility, whatever name will be given, which will then be disbursed in tranches, linked to the implementation of the reforms.”
On the other hand, Washington insists the punitive Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) will only be scrapped if Harare shows commitment and political will to return to democracy through fostering the rule of law and holding credible elections, among other key reforms.
Some of these demands are low hanging fruits, which just need political will and commitment. No money is required to implement some of these reforms. For instance, no cent is required to respect property rights, fight corruption and ensure that basic human rights and freedoms are recognised and respected.
Without commitment to implementing bold economic and social reforms, the country will remain unattractive to foreign investors. The new government will have to immediately implement sweeping reforms in order to rebuild the economy.
Whoever is declared president between the two will be judged by the quality of his cabinet and this will determine whether the country will move forward or backward.
The new cabinet will have to inspire confidence locally and internationally that it has the competencies and skills to spearhead a reform agenda and economic recovery that can end almost two decades of untold suffering by the majority of Zimbabweans.
The time for grandstanding and cheap political point scoring is over. It is now time for a real statesman to step up to the plate and move the country forward.