Ten days after his inauguration and delivery of a forward-looking acceptance speech that inspired the country and the world, President Emmerson Mnangagwa swore in a Cabinet to execute that vision on Monday.
He pledged at his November 24 investiture to implement sweeping economic reforms, create jobs, tackle cash shortages, protect private investment, fight corruption and promote utilisation of farmland. President Mnangagwa also pledged to reengage the international community to end 17 years of isolation and economic stagnation.
His speech was well received both at home and abroad and December 4 was a moment when he started executing his grand plan for the next seven months or so. He has a leaner team of 21 Cabinet ministers which brings together some experienced hands and new, technocratic ones.
President Mnangagwa and his Cabinet have a responsibility to deliver, and deliver in a very short period of time, he said on Monday while swearing in the new crop of cadres to run the country.
Yesterday he chaired his first Cabinet meeting at which he reiterated the immediate challenge the Government has to reverse the economic downturn, fight corruption and adopt a results-oriented approach.
We have no doubt that the man in charge has it all and we are optimistic that he will deliver. He is a man of action who impressed the country with his hands-on steering of the Command Agriculture programme. We saw him visiting farms across the country almost twice weekly to get an on-the-ground impression of activities. He has a deep understanding of how Government works and has the drive, the energy to succeed, to do away with the lethargy that, with much respect, had come to characterise the leadership of his predecessor, Cde Robert Mugabe.
He is working to inculcate a new work ethic in the civil service and country at large. Already some of his ministers are feeling challenged given that the President is in his office at 8am and knocks off late. Indeed a new culture has to begin in the highest office in the land, cascading down to his Cabinet and the whole country.
“You will recall that my acceptance speech underlined that we will hit the ground running,” President Mnangagwa said in his opening remarks at the inaugural Cabinet meeting yesterday.
“I used that figure of speech advisedly, all to underline a new ethos in administering and delivering public services and goods which must work to quantifiable and measurable targets which make visible impact on the ground. And the ground is where our people are presently, which means from the ground is where we must raise them starting today.
“I am not talking of lifting them spiritually, something we leave to the able prayers of our bishops, priests, reverends and pastors. I am talking of raising them bodily, which means Government-led interventions that address the social conditions of all our people; that raise communities to higher levels of welfare.”
He said delivery would be in line with the objectives of his target-driven Cabinet.
“Our inaugural meeting comes against the backdrop of major socio-economic challenges that need to be urgently addressed,” he said.
“These include the scourge of corruption, the current liquidity crunch, low foreign direct investment inflows, low diaspora remittances, subdued export earnings and heavy dependency on imports. Other militating factors include low capacity utilisation by industry on account of the shortage of foreign currency, high country risk perception, policy inconsistency, poor service delivery, a ballooning budget deficit, a high level of unemployment and the devastating effects of economic sanctions.”
He is aware of the tremendous challenge facing the country. Also, he is aware that time is of the essence thus results must show on the ground immediately, hence his commitment to hit the ground running. He is also aware that the people and the outside world have high expectations from him and his Government. In addition to high expectations is a huge amount of public goodwill for him.
Elections are just a few months away, possibly a maximum of seven months from now.
The President is cognisant of that reality, as we also are that the next few months would be crucial in shaping his and Zanu-PF’s electoral prospects.
Yes, it would be most unfair for the electorate to judge him on the basis of his performance in only 200 and something days but indications of progress, even if they are going to be modest, would be enough to inspire everyone.
In the meantime, we expect to see the international goodwill translating into tangible support for the new Government to reboot the economy. We expect positive energy among our people — business, labour, religious groups and so on — to push forward in unity to get our country working again.
That we are confident President Mnangagwa, his Cabinet and party, Zanu-PF will achieve.