Anger at ED over CEOs snub

Victoria Falls-  President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday cancelled his planned trip to attend the CEO Africa Roundtable in Victoria Falls, amid a worsening economic crisis stirring resentment to his rule.

He cited a meeting with diplomats held in Harare on Thursday as the reason and also attributed the cancellation to the ongoing formation of a Presidential Advisory Council formed to help him in formulating key economic policies and strategies that advance his so-called Vision 2030.

The council comprises leaders of a variety of major Zimbabwean corporations, entrepreneurs, business executives, intellectuals and church leaders.

Asked why the president did not pitch up for the invitation-only annual business meeting, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba told the Daily News: “For the simple reason that he had a fixture with diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe yesterday, and also because his Advisory Council is convening pretty soon to, among other issues, work on a framework for the next indaba with business. He may have missed a fixture, he has not spurned a constituency.”

The usual caravan of business leaders, ministers, parliamentarians, academics and journalists had trekked into the resort town for their annual February get-together, but the man everyone was talking about was 707km away, officially opening the 12th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium 2019 organised by the Research Council of Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa was supposed to be the “Guest of Honour”, billed to make a presentation on the closing day of the forum, which ran under the theme “From talk to unified action: Towards a more responsible and inclusive national economy.”

One CEO told the Daily News of Mnangagwa’s snub: “It feels like Hamlet without the prince.” That, bluntly, is how the CEO Africa Roundtable feels this year, he said.

Mnangagwa and his Finance minister Mthuli Ncube are dominating proceedings. A survey of business executives conducted showed that companies are worried by Mnangagwa’s austerity measures and currency rhetoric.

In Mnangagwa’s absence, it has been left to senior members of his administration — the Speaker Jacob Mudenda, and Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology minister Amon Murwira — to fly his administration’s flag.

Predictably, the concerns are strongest in the business community given the slowing economic growth blamed on Mnangagwa’s economic stewardship.

There is talk here of the need to ensure that currency reforms work for everyone.

One CEO said he had hoped the new president’s reign would mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings.

There is also a sense that Mnangagwa is not effectively leading the country on economic issues, amid indications he and the business community have become distant and now have a strained relationship.

Mnangagwa attended the forum last year where his neck tie was auctioned off for a staggering 

$15 000. After letting go of the tie, which he came putting on from Harare, Mnangagwa was offered an American flag-designed replacement, which he put on immediately.

Oswell Bimha, the CEO Africa Roundtable chairperson, told the Daily News the forum was at fault in Mnangagwa’s no-show.

“Look, when you invite the president, traditionally we have just written directly to his office and we have had to host him, but this time around we have been told we were supposed to follow a certain pattern which we accept we should have followed,” Bimha said.

“He is our number one CEO. There is an acknowledgement around the table that we have not followed the right protocol but we still are going to, after this, go back to our president because it does not make the outcome of this conference less important.

“We still need to engage him out of the collective that we would have come up with. So, next year, we will do the right thing, we will do the correct processes. 

“We want to assure the president whatever bungling up of the process, it is not disrespect. We are not all part of the protocol processes done within these circles but certainly we expect him to be with us next year.”

Asked if the president had sent apologies, Bimha said: “We have failed to do the procedure.”

Asked to outline the procedure, he said: “The procedure is that we are supposed to write to our parent minister, our parent minister then requests the president or through whatever channels at the president’s office. 

So, we did write directly to them, and writing directly to them, we did write on time and we are still wanting to be educated on how else we could have done it so that we could be educated on the process but also getting the president to create time on his busy schedule to come’’.

Bimha also said there was also a scheduling conflict.

“There are also critical issues that are happening within the president’s diary at this time which have coincided with this, so there is a combination of issues. And sadly, on behalf of the roundtable, we are very saddened that we couldn’t have him this time around.”

Asked what will happen to the forum’s economic reform lobby document, “Call to action”, Bimha said: “Very, very, urgently, our Call to Action document is part of our package to him. This Call to Action document is going to be value-added. Being value-added means the contributions that have come up of this are actually going to be put in the priorities that the members have.”

Comments (8)

kunyepa hauna maAnswer aidiwa holololooooo

g40 - 17 February 2019

ED is seriously handicapped when it comes to industry and commerce and leadership in general. The business gurus had some very direct and pertinent questions over the economy, even the finance minister sunbed the Thursday session a supposedly Professor how about a little lawyer the embarrassment was to huge to contemplate.

Widzo - 18 February 2019

This is plain and simply a case of ducking responsibility and saying that it is 'my way or the highway'.

David - 18 February 2019

The organisers need basic lessons on protocols to avaoid a repeat of this mess in future. There is head of state on this mother earth who can just be invited casually to a meeting like that, not even in the model democracies of this world like the USA.

Protocol - 18 February 2019

ko basa re diary ndereyi?

brighton jumbe - 18 February 2019

As usual he does not care about the people and finding answers, instead he is obsessed with grand staging stolen presidency from Mugabe and 2018 elections.

Kufandada - 18 February 2019

ED is right. The event is a useful annual talk-show used to make money through attendance fees. Nothing has ever come out of that thing. It's meant for the gullible to believe that it's a meting of CEO yet anyone who can pay can attend. Even checked what the website of the organisers and checked who they are - mere non-entities seeking to make money via charging people vanoda zvinhu. Can someone tell me one thing that came out of the previous meetings and the recent one. it's moulded along the lines of ZIM-ACHIEVERS - pay to be nominated or nominate yourself, and they boys take the money, and the achiever gets nothing. It's business mates, wake up and smell the coffee next door - kuronga mari patown

willo - 18 February 2019

@willlo is right. Pure waste of time. When I was teher all we did was talk, drink and make moves on the many women (hookers ??) who "suddenly" appeared at the venue. after 6 pm. Nothing substantive happened ... free holiday at the companys' expense.

truthsaid - 19 February 2019

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