ED's 100 days in office

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has led “the most failed first 100 days of any president,” analysts have said, citing the worsening plight of the long-suffering majority of Zimbabweans.

Mnangagwa was installed president on August 26, after the Constitutional Court confirmed his disputed July 30 election victory, dismissing an opposition challenge that had held up his inauguration.

He was inaugurated president for the second time in nine months in a country recently jubilant over the fall of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a soft coup. Upon officially occupying the top job in August, the former long-time Mugabe ally promised to do things differently from his 94-year-old predecessor — blamed for ruining Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy during his 37-year long barren rule.

In an inauguration speech — punctuated with promises of facilitating investment and business growth, re-engaging the international community and job creation — Mnangagwa gave himself 100 days to start working his “magic” in fixing Zimbabwe’s broken economy.

The 100 days lapsed last month.

While Mnangagwa has rated his period in office as a huge success, political analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday had different views.

They said his first 100 days has been marked by economic ruin that have marred his otherwise positive trajectory.

“His first 100 days, is a period of economic chaos stemming from experiments done mainly by his Finance minister and central bank governor. Their poorly phased monetary and fiscal policy statements took us more than 100 days backwards as they fuelled speculative behaviour that had boomerang effects on the volatile financial sector and wreaked havoc on supplies of basic commodities and fuel,” political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme said.

The country is facing serious inflation levels that have been pushed further up by a controversial tax regime on poor Zimbabweans. The recently announced 2019 National Budget by the Finance minister Mthuli Ncube was also not pro-poor.

Saungweme said: “We have also seen increased regime repression of dissenting voices and shrinking of civic space despite failed attempts to paint a picture of reform to the outside world. What we have seen in 100 days is a reversal of the little gains made after the coup in terms of freedoms and a confirmation that coups lead to more dictatorial administrations.”

Zimbabwe is currently facing serious economic challenges, which include shortages of foreign currency, fuel and a huge increase in the prices of basic commodities. Over the last few months, the country has been dogged with problems, ranging from a cholera epidemic to high levels of poverty, as prices have gone out of reach for many people.

Another political analyst Admire Mare, said there was need for the government to urgently address the currency issue, revive the manufacturing and productive sectors and arrest revenue leakages.

“Zimbabwe seems to be still caught up in a vicious cycle of currency woes, queues have resurfaced and the price inflation has shot up.

“Whilst the president has appointed a celebrity Finance minister whom most people see as capable of turning around the situation, the political and economics dynamics seem to be conniving against the governing party,” Mare said.

Another analyst Rashweat Mukundu, said Mnangagwa has generally struggled to put the country back on track economically and politically, as the society is hugely divided along political lines.

“There is no indication at all that the political leadership that is Mnangagwa and his team are prepared to engage the broad society on political reforms and especially on issues around the post-election crisis. We are seeing continued fuel crisis, long lines, we are seeing an increase in the prices of basic commodities, essentially Zimbabwe is far worse than it was in November when Mnangagwa took over, when the coup was initiated by the military.

“So, for me, this has been 100 days of failure, 100 days that have been wasted, much more on unnecessary economic and political grandstanding instead of focusing on the key issues that are affecting this society. So far, we may need the president to reflect more on his strategies. We need him to engage more with the broader civil society and political actors, we need his economic policies to be more realistic. Right now, the insistence that the bond note is at par with the US dollar, is to say the least not true and hence the unsustainable, unavailability of fuel because essentially the government is subsidising the purchase of fuel which in real terms is being bought for 40 cents per litre,” Mukundu said.

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