PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa recently resumed duty after his annual break from January to early February. One of the notable things he has done is to introduce performance contracts for ministers, permanent secretaries, heads of government agencies and local authority bosses for the 2022 fiscal year.
In his address yesterday, Mnangagwa threatened those in the echelons of power against hindering economic development through under-performance. Through the contracts for the public officers, the president is painting a picture of a hardworking and results-oriented leader.
Even when he assumed office in 2017, Mnangagwa deployed flowery rhetoric about political and economic reforms. He promised jobs, zero tolerance to corruption, modern healthcare, improved infrastructure and empowerment opportunities for the youths. A critical look at public health tells a sad story. Roads are in disrepair. Corruption remains unabated while thousands of university graduates have been turned to vendors. Hence the question: Is Mnangagwa a genuine reformist?
Zimbabweans were made to believe that the new leader was a breakaway from the authoritarian rule of the late former President Robert Mugabe who mismanaged the economy for 37 years. Even the signing of the performance contracts for ministers and other high level public officials gives a false image of a development-oriented government. It’s cumbersome for the office holders to excel where there is scarcity of resources. Lack of political will to implement the necessary economic reforms will render the performance based contracts a much ado about nothing.
The credibility of the performance-based contracts has been put to test after four permanent secretaries were named as high-fliers in 2021. These are Higher Education secretary Professor Fanuel Tagwira, Thokozile Chitepo (Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture), John Bhasera (Lands and Agriculture) and George Guvamatanga (Finance and Economic Development).
However, Guvamatanga is also a member of the high level tripartite forum on public sector reforms that superintends the performance contracts together with Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda and Public Service Commission chairman Vincent Hungwe. Although a private consultant was hired to do the permanent secretaries job evaluations, Guvamatanga still sits on a body that oversees the whole process. Therefore, Guvamatanga is both a player and referee, exposing the level of duplicity in government.
Mnangagwa should implement key economic reforms especially on the currency issue as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value against the US dollar. Workers’ salaries in RTGS have been eroded by the depreciation of the local currency. This remains one of the greatest challenges of the “new dispensation”.
More resources have to be channelled towards capital projects and improvement of public health. Decisively dealing with corruption needs no emphasis; grand corruption is one of the major reasons negatively impacting the economy.
Mnangagwa and his team need to deliver to ease challenges facing households.