Dr Bongani Ngwenya
It feels so good to be home. I spent the whole New Year’s Day travelling with my wife and the children from Durban after they had visited me at the beginning of December.
Crossing the border into Zimbabwe, and driving along Beitbridge Road, and seeing the festivity activities that were taking place on New Year’s Day almost in each and every shopping centre along the way gave me this great hope for a better new Zimbabwe. I am not sure whether it was a mere coincidence.
I personally got professional service and treatment at the border and on the road too from the police that were manning the only two roadblocks on the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road.
I was amazed when passing through the Centenary Park in Bulawayo, seeing the glittering and colourful lights decorating the park for Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The Bulawayo City Council has attempted decorating the Centenary Park every year, however, this year the decorations resembled an extraordinary touch. When driving through, I could only say, wow! The temptation is to want to think that the new political dispensation has given the nation hope for a better Zimbabwe in 2018 onwards.
New political dispensation ripe and fertile for economic recovery:
Zimbabweans’ response to “Operation Restore Legacy” both home and abroad surprised the world at large, and as a nation we are an envy of many nations now. The mass solidarity demonstrations by the Zimbabweans locally and abroad on the 18th of November 2017 defined and marked the strongest ever mandate to be given to a political dispensation. My argument is that the mandate given was very loud and clear.
The Zimbabwean people had spoken more than they could in a constitutional election. My question is why can’t we as a nation ride on that overwhelming mandate and the will of the people that prevailed on the 18th of November 2017? Why don’t the new administration in place work as if they have already won the coming elections, execute the mandate they have been given to work towards turning around the economy. With the positive and encouraging disposition displayed by the current President of the country, every time he opens his mouth to speak, he speaks brief messages, however, pregnant with hope and encouragement.
Of late, President Mnagangwa’s approach to the basic commodities prices madness that characterised the period towards Christmas festive season, is worth commending. The President displayed a non-combative approach towards sorting out the problem that could have been administratively dealt with through legislation.
A prerogative of any Government anyway, however, chose to appeal and negotiate with the industrial sector players. The smart move by the President has paid dividends.
I was reminded of the similar situation of price increases in 2007 to 2008, of course as a result of hyperinflation. The previous administration resorted to a combative approach that became catastrophic, when the business sector players were forced to slash the prices by 50 percent. We all saw what happened thereafter. Otherwise enforcing some form of legislation could have amounted to counter-productive Government intervention and imposition of price control. What a political display of wisdom.
In my last Sunday article, I quoted Michelle Obama’s quote of the year 2017, “the presidency does not change who you are, it reveals who you are”.
In my beautiful world view, presidents put people first. So far our President has reminded us that he is the President for all of us, and Zimbabwe is not for Zanu-PF or MDC, but for Zimbabweans. Borrowing from the late Nelson Mandela “Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and those that dwell in it.”
While it may be true that Zimbabweans in their generality had lost confidence in the previous administration, or the previous administration had lost the people’s confidence, my argument is that the new political dispensation has the people’s confidence, judging on the solidarity support of the “Operation Restore Legacy”, throughout the country and outside the country.
All what the leadership needs to do is to ride on the overwhelming mandate they have been given by the people of Zimbabwe, including people from parts of the country that are perceived to have been previously marginalised by the previous administration and move with speed to set the tone for the economic recovery trajectory.
Take advantage of the new political dispensation. Quickly amend and repeal some pieces of legislation from the previous administration that scared away potential investors. By the way, the new political dispensation is a child of their (new leadership) own brains and a progeny of their own endeavours. Like I said in last week’s instalment, that the current or the new leadership of the country can engage now in “operation restore economy” because the country is politically ready and fertile. The people spoke with a very loud voice on the 18th of November 2017.
I had an opportunity to chat with friends and acquaintances in Bulawayo during the week. People are yearning for the times they will walk into the banks and be able to access the cash they want, the days when sleeping in queues will be a thing of the past, especially for the elderly and pensioners, the time when Bulawayo will regain its industrial hub status, and the rest of the country economically thriving and booming once again.
There is positive development and improvement in the liquidity situation in Harare, I have been made to understand. People from Bulawayo and other parts of the country outside Harare are looking forward to the liquidity improvement in their areas as well in the near future.
It was a joy to learn that consumers were able to withdraw $50 to $100 from the ATMs, with the civil servants being able to withdraw $300 towards the Christmas festivities. I am not quite sure if this phenomenon prevailed throughout the country, or it was only in the capital city.
There is an urgent need for the new administration to create a conducive domestic and foreign investment environment in order to reverse the negative economic trend of meeting consumption demand through imports rather than higher capacity utilisation that has prevailed for too long in the country’s economy, in the process exacerbating the liquidity problem, the unemployment problem, and general economic growth decline.
In conclusion, may I apologise to my readers. This Sunday’s instalment may sound a bit harp hazard.
The simple issue I’m trying to bring across is that I personally see no logic in the new administration, resulting from the new political dispensation that has been overwhelmingly given a thumbs up by the Zimbabweans locally and abroad to further delay the economic recovery trajectory enunciated by his Excellency President Mnangagwa in his State of the Nation address in pretext of going for elections first, mid-2018 most likely.
The Zimbabweans gave the new administration the legitimacy during the solidarity marches on the 18th of November 2017. Economy, economy, economy, and more economy and politics later.
-Dr Bongani Ngwenya is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org