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    Friday, 9 February 2018

    ED’s current trajectory needs every support



    BY MATTHEW TAKAONA

    Minus his suspected bad human rights record, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's current trajectory needs every support.
    As long as he remains on that line, he has so far proved to be a capable President. His programmes and projects are in tandem with what the people of Zimbabwe have clamoured for since 1999 when the Government of former President Robert Mugabe took a new tangent that plunged Zimbabwe into a debilitating economic and political crisis.
    Except for a few dire mistakes like spending money on a disgusting and obviously lavish traditional chiefs' car scheme and the apparent militarisation of Government structures, the majority of Zimbabweans both at home and abroad are so far happy with Mnangagwa's programmes and projects in Government.
    For purposes of general elections however, Mnangagwa's biggest problem remains one of trust. Even with the openness, magnanimity, dedication, hard work that he has shown so far, many people still find it difficult to trust that a man who was Mugabe's henchman for over half a century could become their  messiah.
    If Mnangagwa can remove the 'mistrust' tag on him; he is a man who for all he has done in the last two months is worth one's support. Mnangagwa's political role has become more critical to Zimbabwe considering the divisions that exist in most political parties and the threat of instability these parties can bring to the country with that baggage if they are elected into power.
    Mnangagwa also needs to deal with his tainted human rights image that follows him like a shadow. His human rights record and the lack of public trust are that the issues that stand out like a sore thumb in an otherwise sterling performance he made in two months.
    Going through current debates on Zimbabwe's second executive President, one observes that even Mnangagwa's most fervent critics have said little negative on his performance as President. They find fodder for attack in his record when he served in Mugabe's Government. The question then is should Zimbabweans remain stuck in the past and vote with Mnangagwa's past in mind or should they bury the painful past, roll up their sleeves, put their shoulders to the wheel and join the President at work?
    Dismissing Mnangagwa as a sound Presidential candidate is like taking pride in two birds in the bush and disregarding one in the hands. The saintly political messiah that Zimbabweans idolise may never come.
    A recent incisive article by Luke Tamborinyoka who is Morgan Tsvangirai's spokesperson is a case in point. Tamborinyoka, a very promising journalist until his profession was cut short when The Daily News was shutdown in 2003 under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act introduced by Government in 2002 made a surgical dissection of the risks inherent in a Government led by Mnangagwa and his team.
    Like most critics before him, Tamborinyoka, a former trade unionist by virtue of the fact that he is a former secretary general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) picks a lot of 'unpardonable' mistakes on Mnangagwa but does not find fault in his current Government. Admittedly the article raises very serious issues of concern and gives compelling historical reasons on why Zimbabweans should shun Mnangagwa at the polls.
    Indeed there are many chilling uncleared reports on Mnangagwa.
    However, for reasons of pragmatism, patriotism, reconciliation and rebuilding our country and because for the first time in many years we have a leader who is promising real free and fair elections. Journalists and political analysts need to grab the opportunity and give honest, fair and comprehensive analysis of the political candidates to enable the electorate to make their best decisions.
    The 2018 elections bring the nation to the cross-roads once again where careful, well considered and correct choices at the polls can take us forward or we stay on the same familiar old path where we are stuck in trenches and electioneering again from 2018 until 2023.

    Tamborinyoka who was ZUJ secretary general when I was president would have helped the nation a lot had he also given his views on Mnangagwa's Presidency and balanced his article. But I know this respected wordsmith and eloquent journalist cannot do that anymore; he is now a politician. The bitterness that Tamborinyoka exhibits in the article is shared by many and this includes his views on criminals, dirty schemers and corrupt elements that surround President Mnangagwa.
    Mnangagwa's performance in the two months that he has been President has brought dilemma to many would be fence-sitters in the 2018 elections and some voters who would not even have imagined putting their X on Zanu PF.
    It is worth considering some of the notable changes and achievements that are bound to shift the groumd.
    The first popular thing that Mnangagwa did just before he got into power was to help remove Mugabe who had defeated democracy for more than 30 years and was at the point of creating a dynasty by installing his wife, a former copy typist as the country's next President. This move did not just receive overwhelming support from Zimbabweans but from the international community at large.
    Mnangagwa opened the country to business with a drastic review of indigenisation laws that made Zimbabwe unattractive as an investment destination.
    He has started tackling corruption and a number of high profile people have been arrested and charged. Just last week Mnangagwa appointed a commission to investigate land barons who had in a very sickening way made this country so cheap to the extent that they would lay their hands on any unused State or private land  they come across, subdivide it, sell residential stands and pocket the proceeds.
    Mnangagwa dealt a deadly blow to corruption within the Police and freed Zimbabwean motorists from a cartel that held the nation at ransom by fundraising through road fines. The roads are a lot freer now.
    Zimbabwe is bedevilled by a chaotic and corrupt land reform programme and the recent ban on further land grabs and the issuing of 99-year land leases to white farmers has boosted confidence in the agricultural industry.
    In the media, journalists must celebrate a year in which for the first time in many years they got within seven months of the ballot day without seeing rampant arrests, detentions and violence against the scribes. This is a unique election year for journalists.
    Initiatives to rejoin the Commonwealth have started as Zimbabwe is reclaiming its place in the international community lost because of Mugabe's intransigence and bloated ego. Zimbabwe's absence from the families of nations cost the country immensely on business, education and many other opportunities
    In the area of welfare, those aged 65 years will no longer pay to get service in public hospitals while women on maternity will be admitted in clinics and hospitals for free.
     Most importantly Mnangagwa has invited the international community to come and monitor Zimbabwe's elections to prove that they are free and fair. He has declared zero tolerance to violence and made a public pledge that he would step down if he loses elections.
    Mnangagwa has reduced Cabinet from 33 to 22 although no one knows for how long.
    This is the trajectory that ED has taken and this is the trajectory  that all Zimbos, opposition included have always clamoured for change.
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