COMMENT: Wasting no time, settling down for serious business
Hatred Zenenga, Editor
After a long haul election campaign period, and eventually Monday’s fanfare-filled second term inauguration, President Mnangagwa is wasting no time, but quickly settling down to serious business in his second term. In his own words, “we need to hit the ground running”.
Indeed, one gets the sense of a leader who is keen to get on with work and build on the foundation laid out during his first term of office. This should be a strong starting point.
With a solid majority in Parliament and 52,6 percent win ahead of his closest challenger Nelson Chamisa, who garnered 44 percent, the President has no reason to even think of running a Government of national unity. His party has won a clear and fresh mandate to rule this country for the next five years.
We all witnessed thousands of Zimbabweans filling up the National Sports Stadium to the rafters and 11 heads of State and Government attending the swearing-in ceremony for President Mnangagwa in the country’s capital, Harare. Sadly, the President’s main challenger and CCC leader, who was on the programme’s list of guests was nowhere to be seen.
The President was quick to commend the determination of Zimbabweans, crediting them for the peaceful elections. Certainly, peace prevailed before, during and after the elections, a phenomenon acknowledged by all observers.
Zimbabwe’s functioning democracy since independence in 1980 has never been doubted and the country has consistently held elections and invited regional and international observers. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that Zimbabwe’s elections are a model in Africa.
What has been achieved under President Mnangagwa’s watch is just too long to list here. Under the philosophy of “leaving no one and no place behind”, over 7 000 cross-sectorial projects are visible on the ground for all to see across the length and breadth of the country.
More broadly, and using own resources without World Bank and International Monetary Fund multilateral loans, our country has been a shining star in Africa to many positive trends, including having one of the highest literacy rates, and growing agricultural and mining industries despite the stranglehold of illegal sanctions imposed by the United States and its Western Europe allies.
In his speech at the swearing in ceremony, President Mnangagwa promised to focus on rural industrialisation and modernisation, and continue to make agriculture more productive and climate resilient.
Indeed, our vast agricultural resources must continue to be unleashed for food security and exports in order to rake in foreign exchange earnings. Exports of wheat and maize are evidence of what the agricultural sector can achieve. Extending credit to small and medium-sized enterprises is another area, which should receive equal attention to absorb the vast majority of unemployed youths.
The President’s quick shift of focus to continued investment in production and public infrastructure is a clear demonstration of a leader ready to provide economic opportunities for all, including the most vulnerable
Many projects rolled out in the first five years have been completed but some still remain at various stages of implementation. Moving on quickly to his plans on Monday, President Mnangagwa highlighted the need to complete Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North and Kunzvi Dam in Mashonaland East, among major outstanding national projects. The two dams will ensure reliable water supplies to Bulawayo and Harare.
The President also specifically singled out focus on projects in rural communities in order to boost rural economies and ensure their inclusion in the national economy. In essence, 35 000 villages country-wide will see the establishment of agro-based companies, owned and run by the communities. Funds permitting, this should be a game-changer in the transformation of rural livelihoods.
Equally laudable is the President’s gesture to open his arms and bring all Zimbabweans on board, including those who are still hurt from losing the August 23 and 24 harmonised elections. We believe he is doing all this to give everyone and all sections a sense of belonging to our beloved country.
Surely, the time for elections is over. Bitterness in defeat and the use of provocative rhetoric on social media platforms should be discarded and allow the country to move forward. Who will benefit from exchanges of brickbats?
We have also seen in the last five years, the Government investing massively in the social sector, especially education and health, to end perennial strikes and reverse brain drain. We believe this should continue in the next five years.
The concept of devolution funds introduced by President Mnangagwa has not gone unnoticed in helping close up underdeveloped spaces in provinces. We call for the continued devolution of budgets to the provinces and the focus on infrastructure development of roads, housing and water among others in these areas. No doubt the provinces are the workshops of our nation.
With the appointment of another strong and committed team of Cabinet ministers expected soon, we can only wish President Mnangagwa’s administration a successful reign in the next five years.