Rhetoric without critical reforms a political joke

THE ongoing drama in the opposition MDC may be a distraction — a much-needed sideshow beneficial to the government — while many Zimbabweans are rightly concerned with the Covid-19 pandemic which has wreaked havoc globally, but there is no doubt that the most urgent need is for the Mnangagwa administration to halt the man-made disaster which has brought our country to ruin.

Candid Comment
Owen Gagare
ogagare@zimind.co.zw

Zimbabwe is on the brink of collapse because of an arrogant, incompetent and corrupt leadership, which has little appetite for reform. As evidenced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s desperate letter to the International Monetary Fund dated April 2, leadership failure has contributed to Zimbabwe’s plunge down the abyss, leaving the country too incapacitated to decisively deal with the perils of Covid-19.

Zimbabwe is expecting the economy to contract by 20% between 2019 and 2020 at a time 8,5 million people are food insecure. The country, facing a financing gap of almost US$1 billion including US$200 million needed for unbudgeted Covid-19 expenses, is desperate to access lines of credit and debt rescheduling or cancellation.

It is increasingly becoming clear to all and sundry that the November 2017 coup promise was pie in the sky. Most Zimbabweans believe life is tougher today than it was in 2017. Despite his reputation as former president Robert Mugabe’s ruthless enforcer, President Emmerson Mnangagwa enjoyed a flood of international goodwill after assuming power following the coup.

The coup was largely seen as an opportunity for Zimbabwe to follow a new path by implementing progressive political and economic reforms. It has not happened.
Mnangagwa’s rhetoric that under his leadership Zimbabwe would be “open for business” was well-received, but he has been all talk and no action, hence the dwindling local and international support and goodwill. Under Mnangagwa, cronyism, corruption, policy inconsistency and kleptocracy continue to reign supreme. In Ncube’s desperate plea, he acknowledges that seeking arrears clearance and debt rescheduling “given the policy missteps during 2019, is rightfully a cause of concern to development partners”.

He then pledges that the government will implement far-reaching economic, political and governance reforms, including tackling corruption. Ironically, the reforms listed by Ncube, including the adoption of a market-determined and transparent exchange rate regime consistent with macro-economic fundamentals, are basically what the Mnangagwa regime have promised from day one.

The promise to tackle corruption was music to the ears of most Zimbabweans when Mnangagwa took over. Instead, Zimbabweans have seen corrupt cartels grow in stature, capturing government officials and institutions in the process.

It is crystal clear that the much-needed financial support from the international community will only come after the government implements meaningful reforms.
Empty rhetoric has run its course — it is now time for action.

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