President: The eloquent developer President Mnangagwa addresses the Dakar 2 Feed Africa Summit in Senegal on Wednesday. On his right is his Senegalese counterpart President Macky Sall. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu.

Vusumuzi Dube recently in DAKAR, Senegal 

SETTLED in his front row seat, flanked by other African leaders, his now trademark scarf rests on his shoulders, as if to signify the weight he carries for his country, even so far away from home. 

While the scarf might be feather-lite, the weight of leadership is far heavier, but it is a burden that President Mnangagwa relishes and indeed, looks forward to carrying every living hour. 

As events unfold, he follows proceedings attentively, his demeanour not too dissimilar to that of tennis fans as they watch events unfold at one of the greatest tennis events, France’s famed Roland Garros tournament.

However, this is not the tennis world’s greatest clay court event, but the Dakar 2 Feed Africa Summit, held in Dakar, Senegal, from Wednesday until Friday.

With some presentations done in French, President Mnangagwa occasionally grabs the headset next to him to listen to the English translation.

This is clearly a man on a mission, a man out to fully represent his people.

Tick, tock, tick, tock . . . the seconds inch closer for Zimbabwean’s trusted statesman to take to the podium to address a continent.

Eventually, the programme facilitator requests the first batch of African Heads of State to take to the podium.

However, the facilitator has one ace up his sleeve.

“Honourable Presidents, we want you to speak from the heart, no written statements, tell us in three minutes of your success stories in your nations.”

Normally, when Presidents make key presentations, teams behind the scenes put maximum effort in preparing for even the smallest of speeches. 

While for some Heads of State, the facilitator’s sudden request is a stunner they did not anticipate, for President Mnangagwa the sudden twist does not mean much because he indeed is a man on a mission.

As he struts to the stage walking after the Senegalese leader and chairperson of the African Union (UN), Macky Sall and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, with no notes in hand not even a tablet, this is a man who is well-prepared; whose thoughts are safely lodged in his brain instead of a piece of paper. 

Finally, it is his time to speak and his three minutes six seconds speech is indeed a speech from the heart.

Not at once does he stutter. Eloquently pointing out how his nation has managed to develop the agriculture sector and revolutionarise it in a short space of time.

And, no it is not a speech littered with complicated jargon and technical language. Instead, for President Mnangagwa it is going back to basics as he gives the best unexpected tagline; “Village Wisdom”.

There at the podium was indeed a man with love for his nation, an Eloquent Developer.

Unbeknown to many, this was going to be the highlight of the day because right up to the last day, the Zimbabwean delegation was the most popular as other African leaders kept on referring to its success story, with a host more expressing interest to travel to the country to see for themselves how the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, has managed to turn around the sector, a scenario which will soon see the nation retain its status as the bread basket of Africa.

President Mnangagwa said village philosophy entails that a country must be ruled and developed by the people of that country.

“In Zimbabwe, we had the problem of food insecurity and we said, how much food do we want in a year to feed our nation and the figure we got was two million metric  tonnes of grain. 

“So we said, because there is climate change, how many hectares of land can we put under irrigation to produce two million-plus metric tonnes to feed the nation and we determined how much yield we would get from a hectare hence we knew the figures and we did that and we are now food secure.

“Secondly, we have been importing our wheat from Ukraine and fertiliser from Russia. Now that side is problematic. We thus decided to say we need about 240 000 metric tonnes of wheat, so how many hectares do we need under irrigation to grow wheat and we calculated and put that number under wheat and we are now wheat sufficient and we believe next season we will be able to export wheat,” said the President as part of his remarks.

This is the President under whose his leadership the country last year managed to harvest the largest wheat yield ever. That is in the 56 years the crop has been grown commercially in the country.

So buoyant was President Mnangagwa that he declared that this year the country would actually be exporting wheat.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and The Gambia, Mr James Maridadi, revealed that after the summit, already three nations under his jurisdiction had already approached him expressing interest to visit Zimbabwe to witness first hand, the success story.

That was how eloquent the President was.

As the summit came to a close yesterday, the event organisers — the African Development Bank— are smiling as the Zimbabwean story, as ably presented by President Mnangagwa, indeed helped them achieve their event objectives.

In his opening remarks, President Sall had emphasised the need for political commitment to achieve food sovereignty on the continent and what better example than that which has been set by Zimbabwe.

The three-day summit was held under the theme “Feeding Africa: Food Security and Resilience”.

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