HomeOpinionEconomic crisis: Hallmark of Mnangagwa’s dismal failure

Economic crisis: Hallmark of Mnangagwa’s dismal failure

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa made a desperate appeal to Zanu PF youths as he asked his supporters to unmask those “sabotaging the economy”, saying the debilitating economic malaise was artificial and aimed at toppling him.

While this may at face value be an attack on dissenting voices and anyone who dares challenge his hold to the throne, a deeper analysis speaks to Mnangagwa’s admission to leadership failure.

The testimony, analysts say, was proof that Mnangagwa was not the man stirring the ship. Apart from that, it has also been seen as a scapegoat used by the ruling party leader to justify his failures ever since he took over office.

Speaking at the Zanu PF youth league conference in Harare recently, Mnangagwa said business was working with foreign powers to fan instability through unjustified price hikes.

This followed previous reports of powerful cartels, particularly in the fuel sector and close to major tenders, who have become powerful to a point of dictating the economic direction.

“We are aware of people who are working with detractors to bring about regime change through manipulation of our exchange rate and unjustified price hikes,” he said.

“My government is seized with this matter and the perpetrators will soon be brought to book. I exhort the youth of our country to be vigilant and help expose all the deviant malcontents and counter-revolutionaries.”

Mnangagwa’s predecessor Robert Mugabe in 2017, just months before his historic ouster in a military coup, told the army to stop meddling in politics in what was again a clear sign the veteran ruler had become just a passenger on the ship.

Mugabe, in July 2017, said military involvement in the internal politics of Zanu PF was tantamount to “a coup”.

“The military has no right, you know, to be interfering with the political processes,” Mugabe told a meeting of his party’s Women’s League at the time.

This, however, is similar to the current situation where Mnangagwa is indirectly admitting that there was a bigger force allegedly sabotaging his efforts.

Political analyst Dumisani Nkomo said Mnangagwa was not in control.

“That was an insightful comment by the President, which indicates that the issue of multi-centres of power and factions are within the realm of speculative reality not conjecture,” Nkomo said.

Zanu PF factional fights played out in the party’s provincial elections held in December last year where allegations of corruption and manipulation of results was rife.

Human rights lawyer Webster Jiti said Mnangagwa had never been in control of the economy.

“His entire government was uniquely clueless right from the outset. No tangible economic policies have been implemented beyond the hype of mega deals, which have seen our resources being mortgaged for peanuts,” he said.

“My humble view is that ED is a strongman but economics proved him wrong; you don’t stitch the orifice when you have a stomach bug, you deal with the problem unfortunately the entire team at his disposal is not up to the task.”

Jiti said the current desperate measures, which were patently unlawful by Mnangagwa to contain the economy, betrayed an effort to lock the stable when the horses have left.

However, law lecturer at Kent University Alex Magaisa disagreed with the notion that Mnangagwa was not in control.

He pointed out that the Zanu PF leader’s utterances were just part of his playbook to blame everyone except himself.

“If he is being sabotaged why doesn’t he fire the saboteurs? Is he scared of the alleged saboteurs? In the absence of proof the notion of sabotage can be dismissed as a figment of his imagination, an easy defence to avoid responsibility,” Magaisa said.

“The truth is that he has been a dismal failure in the time that he has been in office. It’s a combination of incompetence and corruption.” Political commentator and International Crisis Group consultant Pius Pigou concurred, saying blaming others for Zimbabwe’s economic woes had become a constant feature of the government’s narrative.

“Whether it is external or internal forces allegedly pursuing regime change or nameless economic saboteurs as we see again in Mnangagwa’s recent utterances, this tailored messaging suggests the government is unable to manage and navigate a sustainable and fair solution to its deepening foreign currency crisis,” Pigou said.

Stephen Chan, a Professor of World Politics School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, said a president should balance the forces around him or her.

Chan said Mugabe did that but when he was ready, he could move against those closest to him with speed and ruthlessness, but Mnangagwa did not have such capacity.

“He is not strong enough. That doesn’t mean he’s not in control. It means he has to keep up the balancing act. But, clearly, at times he will get frustrated,” he said.

“Especially as he knows no one in the seniority of Zanu PF could do a better job right now as president. Everyone, including all his internal rivals, played a role in creating the policies that have driven the nation’s economy to the brink.”

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