PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s inauguration speech has been met with mixed feelings, with some analysts saying it was conciliatory and sets the stage to move the nation in a new direction.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
But others are of the view that Mugabe’s message proved that the 89-year-old leader was still the same wily old fox.
Mugabe’s inauguration at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Thursday in front of six African heads of state, several other foreign dignitaries and thousands of Zimbabweans, saw him lay out his vision and priorities for the next five years.
But analysts said whether the impact of his policies will be good or bad remains to be seen.
They said the next 100 days could prove critical for Mugabe’s administration, with a lot of comparisons being made with the just-ended four-year coalition government.
The analysts said a lot of focus would be laid on assessing the new government’s competence, conciliatory style and substance.
Mugabe would this time around be scrutinised on how he would perform and fulfil campaign and inauguration promises.
Political analyst, Clever Bere said the speech was fairly reconciliatory while at the same time acknowledging the challenges lying ahead.
He said it generally resonated with his other speeches during the life of the inclusive government.
But Bere said Mugabe and Zanu PF, even when they were more of a one party state, have “said good and acted bad”.
“In his inauguration speech in 1980, he spoke on reconciliation, to his political foes both white and black, and ended up smashing any dissenting voices,” he said. “Given this history, we should give his words time for us to say indeed there is now departure from the past Mugabe.”
Bere said Mugabe spoke on the importance of Zimbabweans being united and working together as a nation, which was essential for a new administration.
Further, Bere said Zanu PF’s emphasis on youth empowerment and employment creation was an important recognition of the pressing need to address the material condition of the majority of young people.
“The major worry though is its implementation. We expect that they have learnt lessons from their partisan, selfish and rather chaotic land reform programme and improve on implementation,” he said.
“That is, for everyone to be forward looking and committed to work for the betterment of each one of us, and the country as a collective.”
The political analyst said the first days of Mugabe’s administration were key, and should be used to build confidence and defuse the pessimistic perception many people have in the manner Zanu PF does its business.
“If that is done, I believe there will be renewed hope that things can get better, even under a Zanu PF administration,” he said.
Bere said opposition forces must also remain vigilant while playing a constructive role, so that the country moves forward in the next five years when Zanu PF will be in power.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe made a lot of populist promises, but it was not clear if these were anchored on available and expected revenue inflows.
He said if Mugabe was to demonstrate his quest to deliver on some of his promises, there was a need to present a supplementary budget within the next two months, before the announcement of the 2014 national budget.
“He has to deliver otherwise disillusionment will sink in and it will be difficult to satisfy the expectant populace,” said Masunungure.
Inauguration speech: Many promises, thin on detail
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Professor Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe’s inauguration speech had many promises, but was thin on detail.
He said there was need for more information and data, including the expected revenue inflows from various sources such as Chiadzwa diamond mines.
Masunungure was of the view that Zanu PF had a “treasure trove” ready to quickly disburse quick money to civil servants, soldiers as well as inputs to farmers as pledged by Mugabe.
“Clearly, this cannot be done unless money is stashed somewhere. The same sources which funded the election [Zanu PF campaign] are the same sources that are going to pacify farmers, soldiers and civil servants,” he said.