POLITICAL analysts have called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to step up and dismantle the current political system that fosters unaccountability, corruption and inefficiency for him to outshine former President Robert Mugabe, whom they labelled the “father of failure”.
Mugabe, who stepped down last week, left behind a legacy of economic mismanagement that resulted in company closures, crippling cash shortages and widespread poverty, among other ills, the analysts said.
The analysts said it would only take little effort for Mnangagwa to be seen as an economic reformer, which he can only achieve if he dumps Mugabe’s policies that were to blame for the socio-economic mess the nation is in.
“The best thing about bettering Mugabe on the economic front is that there is no room for worse performance. Mugabe is the embodiment of economic mismanagement. The worst scenario is remaining at Mugabe’s level and a little effort means outshining Mugabe,” commentator Mlungisi Dube said.
“And if the President implements what he promised with just a 50% success rate, he is set to go down in history as a great economic transformer … he will be benchmarked against the father of failure.”
Trust Matsilele, a Zimbabwean PhD fellow at the University of Johannesburg, weighed in, urging Mnangagwa to dump Mugabe’s “ruinous” policies and unnecessary rhetoric that scared away foreign direct investment.
“Indeed, Mugabe failed as a leader, but let’s not try to delink Mnangagwa from Mugabe’s failures, he has been with Mugabe more than any other politician in and outside Zanu-PF. He has an open opportunity to succeed if he walks back on many bad policies he and Mugabe actively participated in crafting such as indigenisation,” he said.
Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech was a departure from the past as he promised to tackle corruption, engage with the broader international community, rationalise the land reform programme, while also boosting job creation, among others.
Some analysts argued that Mugabe cannot be solely blamed for the country’s economic woes as the people “that he entrusted with responsibilities to run the government also failed with him”.
“Mnangagwa has a tough job ahead of him – to resuscitate a failed economy in less than a year. What makes it even tougher is that he is also supposed to dismantle the current political system that fosters unaccountability, corruption and inefficiency.
“Without such ‘surgical’ political system reforms, any economic growth and development during Mnangagwa’s tenure will just be cosmetic,” Obert Hodzi, a Zimbabwean researcher and scholar in African politics based in Hong Kong, China, said.
Mfundo Mlilo said: “I think that ED (Mnangagwa) is cut from the same cloth. This economy requires much fundamental decisions and policies to be functional. He needs to address the internal contradictions in his own party policy that has destroyed the economy including tolerance for corruption and protectionist policies.
“How do you attract foreign direct investment with indigenisation policies that are not well thought out? The elections are due in about nine months. So it’s a tough call.”