Since coming to power four years ago, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration have made a lot of mistakes. But this was expected.
The country that he inherited from his mentor, the late former president Robert Mugabe who died in Singapore in 2019, was a complete mess.
Working out a winning strategy to reverse four decades of destruction in four years was never going to be easy.
For instance, the economy was chaotic. The farming sector, once a southern African pride, had been reduced to a joke. Companies, including those in the key mining industry were living on the edge, unsure if they would keep their licences for the next day’s shifts under the strongman’s harsh empowerment laws.
This is why at the height of the madness between 2000 and 2008, Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product fell by half, before 4 561 companies shut down between 2011 and 2013 leaving 55 000 jobless.
Mugabe thrived on chaos. The more his bad policies destroyed Zimbabwe, the more he churned out destructive instructions, such as commandeering his police force to camp at almost every street corner to punish motorists and extort money under trumped-up charges.
To be fair to Mnangagwa, some of these wicked actions have been reviewed. The empowerment policy has been relaxed and citizens can now drive longer distances without being flagged down to pay heavy fines and bribes to the police. Instead, this regime has been rebuilding long-neglected urban and rural roads.
Still, one bad practice still sticks out, which requires Mnangagwa’s immediate attention, if he entertains hopes of achieving widely ambitious economic targets that he set out after the coup in 2017.
Investors are still being forced to pay huge bribes to gain access to him, or key decision makers. The grapevine says the figures involved are mouthwatering.
As we report, the mining industry is mired in chaos, with every inch of mineral fields already taken over, sometimes illegally and with the Ministry of Mines’ blessings. Politically connected investors are flexing their muscles to invade all lucrative goldfields abusing his name or his family or that of the ruling Zanu PF. In the case of Ran Mines, which we cover in this issue, hundreds of millions of United States dollars in potential revenue have been lost in the past decade due to greed.
It is shocking that the Ministry of Mines has failed to act on such key cases, which have a huge bearing on Zimbabwe attaining the targeted US$12 billion mining economy.
So many such incidents of greed and needless political muscle-flexing have been reported in this industry.
It is one of the reasons why Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, ended up dropping Zimbabwe among his chosen investment destinations after taking keen interest in Harare in 2015.
Surely, these are clear setbacks to Zimbabwe’s recovery efforts, which must be addressed by caging all bad apples to set an example.
Mnangagwa has two options — he can decide to act now, and save the economy, or leave crooks to destroy Zimbabwe.