PEOPLE close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa insist he is a pragmatic leader and a reformist who genuinely wants to put the country’s economy on a recovery and growth trajectory.
Candid Comment,Owen Gagare
He is touted as a reformist in the same mould as legendary Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who is credited with ushering in bold reforms which set the foundations of China’s tremendous growth over the last four decades.
After assuming power in 1978, following the death of chairman Mao Zedong, Deng outlined reforms that combined socialist ideology with free enterprise, under the rubric “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
The sweeping reforms resulted in the country opening to trade, foreign investment and ideas. They unleashed the creative and entrepreneurial potential of the Chinese people, which is being felt globally today. China, once a poor country, has evolved into a global economic powerhouse thanks to Deng’s visionary leadership.
As highlighted by former World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim during the First China International Import Expo in November last year, the Asian country has made tremendous progress in those four decades.
“By embracing reforms and openness in its development model, China has increased its per capita income 25-fold, and more than 800 million Chinese people lifted themselves out of poverty as a result—more than 70% of the total poverty reduction in the world,” Kim said.
It is certainly good for Mnangagwa to be inspired by successful visionaries such as Deng. But being inspired alone without taking practical action in following the footsteps is not good enough.
So far Mnangagwa has proved not to be a Deng, as he is all froth but no beer.
Unlike Deng and Chinese leaders who came after him, Mnangagwa is not serious about far-reaching economic reforms, as he fears ruffling the feathers of people surrounding him.
For example, he has not shown an appetite to genuinely fight corruption because he is surrounded by powerful cartels and individuals benefiting from the system.Although he says he is pro-business, his ease of doing business reforms have been sluggish, while human rights continue being violated under his watch. The rule of law and property rights also continue to be shredded.
A government which raids foreign currency accounts of investors; or which takes minerals mined by foreign companies, but fails to pay for deliveries, like in the case of Metallon Gold and Rio Zim, does not give the impression it is pro-business.
Similarly, a government which threatens business over prize hikes, instead of addressing macro-economic fundamentals affecting the pricing regime, among them, the currency and exchange rate volatility, lack of confidence, as well as the high cost of doing business, does not give an impression it is led by a Deng enthusiast.
If Mnangagwa wants to be Zimbabwe’s own Deng, he must make decisive and bold reforms. His place in history will be judged by action and tangible results. Simple.