Harmony Agere, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has exhibited dogged consistency and tenacity in following through and fulfilling promises he has made to Zimbabweans over the three years he has been in office, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service secretary Mr Nick Mangwana has said.
The Second Republic turned three on Tuesday last week, marking the day President Mnangagwa took his oath of office before a packed National Sports Stadium vowing to serve all citizens and turn around the country’s fortunes. Reflecting on the journey last week, Mr Mangwana said under the New Dispensation, Zimbabwe has recorded strides in stabilising the economy, infrastructure development, social service delivery, and engendering political tolerance. The President, said Mr Mangwana, uses a well-defined programme-to-policy system in executing his duties.
He said on inauguration, the President promised to inculcate political tolerance among Zimbabweans and this has been realised through the establishment of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s domestic policy on the political front has been one of rapprochement and it gave birth to the Polad platform, which was launched in February 2019. Polad brings together over 18 political leaders and parties that participated in the 2018 harmonised elections and is an equal no-holds-barred platform for stakeholders to share ideas on how best to move the country forward. The President has not ended there, but has worked with civil society leadership and other partners whose role in governance may be considered as hostile to his administration.”
This, said Mr Mangwana, is confirmation that Cde Mnangagwa is a listening President.
“Polad is not only a manifestation of President Mnangagwa’s inclusive brand of politics, but is also a fulfilment of one of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry recommendations. He promised to act on the recommendations of this Commission of Inquiry, led by international luminaries, and he did just that.”
The President also promised to bring closure to the post-independence civil disturbances that rocked parts of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, in an operation commonly referred to as Gukurahundi, said Mr Mangwana.
“In the Zimbabwean political space, few subjects are as contentious as the Gukurahundi historical conflict. That subject was taboo, never to be discussed. But this position was turned on its head when that subject was opened up for public discourse.”
Government, working with local traditional leaders and civic groups, has already initiated processes to facilitate restorative justice and take measures to provide healing in the communities affected by Gukurahundi. Government has undertaken to facilitate easy access to civic documents and provide medical assistance for communities affected by the operation. A programme to exhume and rebury victims of Gukurahundi, being led by local traditional leaders is also in the works.
“The President’s move to finally address Gukurahundi and its surrounding trauma and controversies has been widely hailed as an important step in rebuilding the nation.”
President Mnangagwa also undertook to front equity in development between provinces through devolution and decentralisation in line with the 2013 Constitution, a programme which he immediately put into action.
“Regarding the issue of devolution, which has also been a contentious issue and fodder for opposition parties in past decades, President Mnangagwa’s Government has kick-started processes to devolve power and administration by prioritising local businesses in the award of tenders and giving locals first preference when filling in positions. This was a brave policy volte face.”
The recent conclusion of the Global Compensation Deed, was yet another milestone for the three-year-old administration, which brought to finality a decades-old dispute between Government and white former commercial farmers.
He said signing of the agreement was a crucial step in fulfilling a key Constitutional provision, which compels Government to compensate farmers whose land was appropriated during the Land Reform Programme.
“The Global Compensation Deed agreement between the Government and white former farmers whose land was expropriated under land reform makes it clear that there will be no compensation for the land itself, but, as laid down in the Zimbabwean Constitution and law, there will be compensation for improvements, biological assets and land clearing costs.”
Mr Mangwana added that true to the President’s “Open for Business” mantra, the New Dispensation in 2018 amended the contentious Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. The law, which required all foreign-owned business to cede at least 51 percent of shareholding to locals, was widely considered anti-business.
“A March 2018 amendment of the exclusionary Indigenisation law lifted the restrictions from all sectors but the diamond and platinum sectors. Foreign investors are now free to invest in the non-resource sectors without any restrictions as the new dispensation moves to facilitate the transfer of technology, value-addition and creation of employment.”
When President Mnangagwa took over Zimbabwe had no currency of its own, instead, the country was operating through a basket of currencies, a situation that was considered inimical to production and competitiveness for local businesses.
Last year, the Zimbabwean dollar was reintroduced after nearly a decade. A series of events, however, witnessed the local unit dramatically lose value leading to the introduction of cocktail of measures to stabilise the currency around June this year.
“With the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) Government started correcting the economic imprudence of the previous dispensation, which includes fiscal and monetary indiscipline, cash shortages and distortions in the foreign exchange market,” he said.
“These led to a ballooning fiscal deficit, and its financing through an overdraft at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the over-issuance of Treasury Bills, which were the major causes of macro-economic instability and financial sector vulnerability. To tame all the indiscipline, the new dispensation crafted and implemented measures drawn from the TSP to contain its budget expenditures.”
On the monetary front, Mr Mangwana said the Second Republic, has arrested inflation, which was galloping at a pace that was haemorrhagic to the economy. “On improving the ease of doing business, Government established a one-stop-shop entity called the Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority (ZIDA) to reduce the time taken by investors to start up a business in the country. ZIDA amalgamated three investment agencies, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, Joint Ventures Unit and the Special Economic Zones Authority into a one-stop-shop.”
Also, the Government introduced Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
“Investors operating in SEZs will not pay tax in the first five years after which they will pay tax at a rate lower than the normal rate of 35 percent. Other incentives to attract investors include tax breaks and deducting tax on capital expenditures on new equipment, machinery and factory improvements.”
One of the major recurring of the Second Republic has been that of re-engaging with erstwhile foes. Mr Mangwana said the international re-engagement efforts have witnessed the mending of bridges while cementing existing ones.
“For more than a decade and a half, there had not been any formal contact between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Zimbabwe. But now the era of berating bellicose against the West is over. Negotiations between Zimbabwe and the EU started at the ministerial level and will soon escalate to further diplomatic heights.”