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Mnangagwa faces uphill task

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa will have his plate full when he begins his five-year term today as he bids to reverse economic decline stretching for almost two decades and to unite a divided country, analysts have warned.


President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Mnangagwa was confirmed the winner of the July 30 presidential elections last Friday after the Constitutional Court threw out a petition by MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa.

Dumisani Nkomo, a Bulawayo-based political commentator, said the Zanu PF leader had to contend with five challenges revolving around the economy and politics.

“There are at least five key challenges that Mnangagwa will face, notably the issue of disputed legitimacy after a contested election, and dealing with perceptions of state capture of independent organs such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the judiciary,” he said.

“Mnangagwa also has to contend with a Parliament that is not loyal to him after the ‘Bhora Musango’ voting patterns during the elections.”

Nkomo said Mnangagwa also had to win the trust of urban voters who overwhelmingly did not vote for him in the polls.

The president and the ruling party performed dismally in the majority of the urban areas, which are now controlled by the MDC Alliance.

“He will face challenges of uniting a polarised nation and healing current and historical wounds, including the shooting of civilians in Harare, and past wounds like Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and the land grabs,” Nkomo added.

“He faces the challenge of instilling confidence in government, but the economy will be his greatest challenge including attendant issues of liquidity, currency, reforms and macro-economic stability.”

After the july elections, Mnangagwa said he was aware that some winning Zanu PF MPs sabotaged him during the elections after they urged their supporters not to vote for the party leader, a situation Nkomo said would make it difficult for the president to stamp his authority in the ruling party.

“There is also a threat of multiple centres of power, which affects policy implementation, and that he is not trusted by the majority of the people in urban areas, and people in his own party who voted for MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa,” he said.

“It is a tall order, which requires supreme leadership and statecraft.”

Admire Mare, a political analyst based in Namibia, said Mnangagwa’s success would depend on how he handles international relations.

“The first thing will entail dealing with the cash crisis and ensuring that the productive sectors like agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism are kicking again,” he said.

“But, that will require a lot of foreign direct investment. Furthermore, there is need to focus on small to medium enterprises since the economy is highly informalised.”

Curbing corruption and encouraging diaspora remittances could help fix the economy and create breathing space for Mnangagwa, Mare said.

“Government must find ways of promoting diaspora investments through special tax holidays and economic zones,” he said.

“It may be complicated to resolve the cash and banking crisis, but it is high time government addressed the issue of bond notes, which are promoting the black market culture and speculative property prices in the market.”

Community Working Group on Health director Itai Josh Rusike said the health sector was another area that needed Mnangagwa’s urgent attention.

“Presently, the infrastructure in hospitals is dilapidated and obsolete, while medicines and supplies are in short supply; doctors, laboratorians, pharmacists, paramedics and nurses are inadequate and poorly motivated,” he said.

“This, against the background of sustained paltry funding to the sector from the national fiscus, is of major concern.”

He said this could be solved were government to increase the health budget to the 15% Abuja Declaration target.

“We also need to remind the new government that some Zimbabweans still walk over 30km to the nearest health facilities to seek treatment especially in the remote locations, farming and resettlement areas, defeating the noble concept of a clinic within every 10km radius,” he added.

“Some are transported in wheelbarrows and scotch-carts either because there are no ambulances, or service vehicles, and if available there is no fuel or the roads are impassable.

“When they reach the health facility, there are not enough nurses, midwives or other trained staff, no medicines, especially for chronic conditions, no gadgets for checking temperature, blood pressure and other parameters, and if requiring some procedure such as plaster or wound care, the capacity at local level may not be there.”

Mnangagwa says his vision is to transform Zimbabwe into a middle-income country by 2030.

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