When media is poised to create negative perceptions

Tendai Biti

Tendai Biti

Panganai Kahuni
Social media, and also some print media, seem to be creating a negative perception in the peace loving Zimbabwean citizens. President Mnangagwa, who is hardly 15 days in office, has become the target for brazen attacks and criticism from certain political analysts using the social and print media.

What is disturbing and shocking are comments made by Zidera-crafting legal expert and former finance Minister Tendai Biti. Biti was quoted by the Dailynews of December 2, 2017, as saying; “Up until now we had given the putsch the benefit of the doubt. We did so in the genuine, perhaps naive view that the country could actually move forward. We craved change, peace and stability in our country. How wrong we were.”

The Dailynews quoted Biti when he gave an interview to BBC.

Fellow Zimbabweans, unless Biti was using “putsch” as a metaphor “Operation Restore Legacy,” was not a revolution and neither was it a violent uprising which is the meaning of the word putsch. In my humble political view Operation Restore Legacy remains an operation and not a revolution as Biti wants to call it.

In this regard, one may not be faulted for opining that Biti’s comments are from a politician who has been flip-flopping in political winds seeking relevance.

Reading his words where he said; “We craved change, peace and stability in our country and we were wrong,” one wonders where Biti is drawing his conclusion from when the change and the dawn of a new era are still in infancy.

Zimbabwe is peaceful and stable while Biti wants the British to think we were wrong to crave change, peace and stability. Such an analysis is myopic, unfair and unjustified at this juncture especially coming from one who could easily be characterised as a failed politician.

The other critiques that are being unfairly levelled against President Mnangagwa are that of appointing what critics describe as “deadwood” who failed during the Mugabe era.

Alex Magaisa and Saungweme have a strong belief that the reappointed Ministers failed dismally under Cde Mugabe’s stewardship. The two political analysts further argue that Zimbabweans were sold a dummy when their expectations were raised last month only for the hope to be snuffed out within days.

Reading the above analyses one rightly concludes that they are meant to set a negative attitude against the Government among peace-loving Zimbabweans.

The analyses can easily be viewed as negative agenda-setting meant to cause confusion in the population with the objective of creating a platform for unnecessary resentment.

Fellow citizens, it is disheartening to note the level of naivety being exhibited by fellow Zimbabweans in prematurely attacking a Government that has just been sworn into office.

The Cabinet had its first sitting yesterday, and our so called political analysts are already telling the world that the Cabinet is inadequate. It must be noted that the appointment of this Cabinet was not meant to please everyone including this writer. In my humble view, the President in his inaugural speech set himself a well received vision on how he wanted to lead the nation to economic prosperity.

In picking his Cabinet, therefore, I believe he was guided by his vision for a better Zimbabwe. Instead of us putting spanners in the works, it is time we all must render full support and undivided commitment regardless of our political persuasions.

It is my humble belief that at this juncture our much needed contributions must not seek to destroy a well-intended vision as was the case with Zidera during the land reform programme but must seek to complement government efforts to grow the economy.

There is also talk on social media about some governments wanting to wait and see how President Mnangagwa’s government is going to practise democracy before they can render financial support. It is my opinion that the immediate priority in the next nine months is to fight corruption and put economic policies that encourage foreign investment.

People want an economic environment that creates jobs and brings food on the table. In the current political environment, elections, as a means of measuring how a government practises democracy, are only coming in 2018.

It is therefore imperative that economic transformation that seeks to create sustainable industrial development; creating the much needed jobs and changing the well-being of Zimbabwean citizens, becomes the current government’s priority number one. Such an agenda as set out by President Mnangagwa in his inaugural speech seeks to improve the livelihood of the Zimbabwean population, enabling them to be socially viable and bring food on the table.

A well set economic transformation trajectory which is well managed and is corruption free becomes the bedrock on which a sound democratic agenda can be built.

Anyone attacking a well thought out economic and democratic vision as espoused by the President before its implementation must be regarded as not well meaning to Zimbabwe’s dawn of a new era.

Political analysis, while it is essential and needed in any political scenario, needs to be cautionary and unemotional in order not to rock the boat as Zidera did. It is my view that the  analysis must create a perception of hope in the citizen and complement government efforts to deliver.

Political analysis must continue to hammer on areas and activities which government should pay attention to in order to take Zimbabwe to Canaan.

Painting negative perceptions at this juncture only helps to derail “Operation Restore Legacy” and the President’s vision for a better Zimbabwe.

The Cabinet that was selected by President Mnangagwa deserves space to hit the ground running. Some may seem to have failed under Cde Mugabe but that may have not been their problem. In the current government all Cabinet ministers have to align themselves to President Mnangagwa’s vision which was well spelt out at inauguration.

To all those who are talking about waiting to see how democracy is going to be practised by the current Zimbabwean government, I say it is grossly unfair, unjustified and unfortunate. It is important for them to give the much need financial support now and see how the government utilises such resources leading to elections in 2018.

Such an undertaking in my view could form the basis of helping the new government to enhance democracy.

The President has selected a team to help him demonstrate and restore economic hope to the nation in the next nine months before elections.

It is my conviction that economic turnaround must be priority number one. It must be noted that while democracy is essential, in the current situation in Zimbabwe, a quick economic turnaround is more important in building a strong foundation for democratic processes in 2018.

There cannot be any meaningful democracy in a country where the economy is not stable. Therefore, both the private and public sectors are encouraged to support President Mnangagwa’s words when he said: “People must work for the minute, hour, day, week and month for Zimbabwe to prosper”.

Let us all unite and offer productive criticism that seeks to enhance development rather than concentrate on destroying ourselves before putting brick to mortar.

Dr Panganai Kahuni is a political socio-economic commentator, researcher and diplomat in the Sadc region writing on his own behalf.

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