Anxious ED looking East as he flies to Eastern Europe for help

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa is between the proverbial rock and a hard place as he battles to mitigate the country’s worsening economic rot — with his impending business trip to Eastern Europe drawing fire from many sceptical quarters which doubt that these jaunts will yield anything tangible.

Mnangagwa is set to leave for Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia this week, before making a second appearance at the prestigious annual gathering of world leaders, economists and captains of industry at the World Economic Forum (Wef), in the resort town of Davos in Switzerland.

This comes as the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader is increasingly feeling the heat from long-suffering Zimbabweans — including restless government workers and ordinary citizens — who are reeling from the country’s latest economic meltdown.

It also comes as the government is working frantically to try and avoid a full-scale strike by all civil servants who are demanding to be paid their salaries in United States dollars — demands which have been made robustly by doctors and teachers who are on industrial action already.

“In respect of the first four countries, the visits are at the invitation of his (Mnangagwa’s) counterparts. The countries … are strategic both bilaterally and multilaterally.

“The other two countries (Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan) are also oil rich nations, with some of the fastest growing economies and interests in mining, energy and tourism,” Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said of the forthcoming trips.

However, the jaunts have drawn fire from many quarters as they are seen as signs that his engagements with the West and multilateral institutions are dead in the water.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday also said that there was a desperate feeling of “déjà-vu” about the trips, as ousted former president Robert Mugabe had also tried to “look East” in vain, towards the end of his ruinous rule.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, said Mnangagwa’s trips were “unlikely” to provide respite to the burning country, at least in the short term.

“One hopes that these visits provide some meaningful trade and investment options, but they are realistically a part of the longer term economic recovery programme and will not provide immediate or short term relief to the current crisis,” he said.

Political analyst, Rashweat Mukundu, said the former Soviet Union countries were “certainly not a panacea” to Zimbabwe’s myriad crises — adding that Mnangagwa’s visits to that region simply betrayed desperation.

“The targeted countries are authoritarian regimes which have nothing to offer Zimbabwe other than the same old politics of repression that were experienced under Mugabe.

“Countries like Russia and Belarus are resource-driven … and resources are not doing well on the international market, hence they are struggling economically and thus may not have enough to invest in Zimbabwe.

“The other question is what Zimbabwe’s foreign policy is and what it is which defines who we engage with. This remains a grey area for this regime,” Mukundu said.

On his part, another political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mnangagwa’s visits to Eastern Europe was not “wise” under the current circumstances.

“These trips are necessary to link Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe to these countries in a global village, but expecting magic bullets from foreigners to solve our problems is not thoughtful,” he said.

The MDC said the money used for Mnangagwa’s expensive excursions should have been used for something else more important — given the current shortages of foreign currency in the country.

“This tour makes the crisis worse. He was on leave just recently and he already has five countries to visit. The money used there would have paid doctors for a month or so,” a fuming MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a ginormous economic crisis which has seen prices of basic goods rising sharply and long-forgotten fuel queues resurfacing.

Apart from the shortages of fuel and other basic goods, the government has also had to contend with myriad problems in the health sector, such as the ongoing doctors’ strike and shortages of critical medicines.

Many government critics say the economic measures that were unveiled by authorities in October last year are at the centre of the country’s troubles.

Mnangagwa, who was feted like a king when he replaced Mugabe in November 2017, initially lifted the mood of crisis-weary Zimbabweans who were hopeful at the time that he would turn around the country’s economic fortunes.

However, the post-July 30 election shootings — which left at least six civilians dead when the military used live ammunition to quell an ugly demonstration in Harare’s central business district (CBD) on August 1 — was seen as having dented his international image significantly, in addition to harming his chances of getting financial support from Western countries.


Comments (13)

West hayina mari....pamwe kune yimwe kwete iyi yatajayira. Chavangakupa ?....ndezvepakati , ndozvavo varungu ava , neka Aid kekunyebera. SA chaiyo inokwanisa kubatsira Zim.....kungoti mari hayikumbirwe , kwete nemunhu anepfungwa , zvinonyadzisa.

Money manners - 10 January 2019

Whether ED can go to mars or to heaven the economy is totally kokai he ED f.....ked up everything which uncle bob left in order .Running around like a headless chicken is not what we citizens want instead we want ED and his confused crew to resign and let others lead this country .

Diibulaanyika - 10 January 2019

Zimbabwe is in capable hands and the economy is recovering, thanks to ex-minister Walter Mzembi. Agriculture needs to be sorted. All commercial farms should be sold and title deeds given to owners so that they can borrow and produce. There must be zero tolerance to corruption. Chamisa has no solutions, just lies, lies and lies. MDC cannot even run urban councils. Look at Harare. Econet is now repairing water and sewerage pipes.

Ndiani Ndiani - 10 January 2019

At 76 years, one is usually too old to fix the future of anybody. biologically one becomes economically inactive from 65 meaning 76 is like floging a dead horse, you beacome a useless geriatric. but emerging from being a mafia leader makes the worst leader of the whole country.

mike - 10 January 2019

Ndiani ndiyani if the government has admitting that we don't have money where do you think Chamisa will also get money as you know Chamisa is Chamisa he is not government and he has no government and you expect him to fix the urban with what money where is minister of local government doing what is he getting payed for you must know politics before you open your tin even opposition took all urban but they report and get money from minister who is a member of zanupf and you expect anything there nxaaa

Innocent Mapurisa - 10 January 2019

I can tell most Zanu 'youths' have been unleashed on this site. This isn't about Chamisa. it's about that coup plotter who is in over his head. Don't try to confuse issues. Fools

Moe Syszlack - 10 January 2019

Innocent Mapurisa your knowledge of local governance and service delivery in Zimbabwe local authorities is ZERO. You should read the Urban Councils Act (available from government printers). Also read academic journals on Public Policy and Administration Research. After this you will be knowledgeable about functions of mayors, councillors etc.

Ndiani Ndiani - 11 January 2019

Going to those countries is nothing but a hard currency swindling scam, he and his entourage gets millions in allowances. Besides he has nothing to offer and attending the WEF in Davos will be a humiliation to himself as none of the reforms promise he made on the last visit have been made. Instead of asking him what opportunities are available in Zim the world media will be asking him why he gunned down six fleeing unarmed civilians on August 1. Countries in similar circumstances economically Sudan Venezuela do not attend such functions for the simple reason of embarrasment. Rogues states North Korea Russia Karzakstan whose politics ED wishes to copy and paste are not invited at world economics forum, it is unwise for ED to pass through some of those states before going to WEF.

Sinyo - 11 January 2019


GARRY B - 11 January 2019

kungotya kuita me reforms here nhai ED muda kubva pa presidency muchitukwa here..........chingopai BITI basa re finance mo chiller henyu

me the one - 11 January 2019

The same dander heads trying to defend ED here are the same fools who defended bob till he totally ran down the country .Now instead of learning from the previous mistakes they are again defending ED despite the fact that he is even worse than Mugabe in running the economy . But anyway these are pple from Mazumba marambamafunga who were bewitched by zanu and have become zombies of zanu .They is nothing Ed will do to build our economy he is totally clueless and his brains are too small instead he should resign now not to wait to be forced out.

Diibulaanyika - 11 January 2019

ED is so clueless its not fun. The problem is that people are dying as a result. In the few months he has been in power he has failed dismally and there is no end in sight. Now he embarks on these meaningless trips overseas instead of resolving local issues and sending a minister instead. Some common sense needed, its not rocket science really.

Inyika - 11 January 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, the economy was dead before the intervention of the military in November 2017. I seem to be lost somewhere. What were the reasons for the military intervention? Why did all people from across the political, racial and religious divide take to the streets in support of the military intervention? If I can get answers to these questions and more I would be wiser. Godknows

Denison Mazana - 11 January 2019

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