HARARE – President Emerson Mnangagwa’s inaugural address — in which he promised to revive a dying economy and restore investor confidence — has enlisted positive reactions from members of the Generation 40 (G40) faction, which appeared to be reaching out to him yesterday.
G40, a group of young Zanu PF members who coalesced around ousted Robert Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace, gave the speech a positive review.
Grace was fired from the party this week along with other key members of G40 in a dramatic week that also saw her husband being recalled from his position.
Mugabe subsequently resigned after impeachment proceedings against him were set in motion.
Former Foreign Affairs minister Water Mzembi who declined to disclose his location, told the Daily News yesterday that notwithstanding his not having been invited to this historic State occasion as per government protocols, it was befitting to break his three-week silence through his “most sincere congratulations to the second Republic Executive President Cde ED Mnangagwa, and First Lady Amai Mnangagwa on their assumption of office.”
“Secondly, to congratulate the president for a very stately and unifying speech, which if followed through by works and in deed, will certainly birth an economic and political renaissance in our country, so much in need of healing and atonement across the board,” he said.
“The president’s speech was loaded with change nuggets, which should give hope to our people going forward into the future and these include inter alia; an unequivocal commitment to elections in 2018, a pledge that reinforces our budding democracy, the sancrosanctness of the land reform programme and it’s irreversibly albeit only to those who will not speculate on land but use it productively, the attendant compensation of the dispossessed — a long thorny issue but one on which we can revive old commitments by former colonisers on the matter.”
Mnangagwa began his presidency with blunt, searing talk about a crippled nation in dire need of bold, immediate action.
Breaking with more than three decades of Mugabe-style inaugural address history, the new president made clear, in case anyone had not yet gotten it, that his will be a very different presidency.
The 75-year-old spurned the poetry and grandeur of most inaugural speeches and instead delivered a rallying cry, reminiscent of his stream-of-consciousness campaign talks, brimming with brash bravado about his intention to bring massive change.
His dominant theme was the economy and business environment and emphasised the need to make investors feel secure, and promised a more efficient and facilitative government.
He said general elections would go ahead mid-next year and acknowledged there had been “errors” under Mugabe.
Mnangagwa stated in his speech he would not reverse Mugabe’s radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4 000 white-owned commercial farms.
The programme gutted commercial agriculture, slashing farming output from 40 percent of all exports to just three percent now.
Mzembi hailed Mnangagwa’s commitments on clean government and swift justice on the corrupt, the readiness to embrace each other on the principle of equality, and reassurance that Zimbabwe would be a home for all.
“However, I would punctuate this reassurance with a repeated message from the president on the restoration of civil liberties suspended in the intervening period through the actions of individuals who may have been cashing in on the evident statecraft vacuum ushered in by the state of flux in some State institutions, Zimbabwe Republic Police as an example,” he said.
“We must now return to civilian policing, and wave our soldiers back to their constitutional obligations of defending our territorial integrity. They go back with enhanced brand equity and love from a wide cross-section of society; that is acknowledged.”
Mzembi said Mnangagwa dealt at length with the comatose economy, starting with an acknowledgement of the agricultural pillar and its cornerstone role and how it will unleash the performance of the other pillars, this only happening in a new Foreign Direct Investment environment that respects multilateralism and bilateral investment protection.
“This is an important step which will be coupled, he posited with a refreshed debt management strategy,” he said.
“His commitment to hitting the ‘ground running’ signals a business unusual approach where everyone has to eat what they kill, and we spend within our means.”
He said notwithstanding events of the past week, Mnangagwa “clearly waved an olive branch to his predecessor, founding father and First Republic president, whom he fondly referred to as his mentor.”
“Operation Restore Legacy’ by the military was all about protection of founding values and bridging them to successor generations hopefully, and if we all recognise this then we should support the president on finding a befitting and dignified role for his mentor, starting with well meaning recognition as exemplified by his speech,” Mzembi told the Daily News.
“We should all commit to putting our hands on the deck to fix our problems, and the presence of opposition leadership at the inauguration was a good inclusive sign, what’s left is to heal the factional divide inside Zanu PF, otherwise it was a good Friday. Hail to the President!”
Makhosini Hlongwane, the former Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture minister, said he extended his congratulations to “the third president of the Republic of Zimbabwe and commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.”
“It indeed is historic that he has assumed the reigns of leadership of our country through a historic process of transfer of power that was done in a peaceful atmosphere,” Hlongwane told the Daily News.
“I want to wish the new president all the best in his new and challenging assignment. Given the historic juncture of our country, President Mnangagwa will without a doubt need the support of every Zimbabwean and he has started well by inviting all political forces to his inauguration, a sign that he will lead with tolerance of diverse views and persuasions.
“I do embrace the new dispensation in full and without reservation and will work to support the new president’s endeavours to prosper our nation.
“I must also extend thanks to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces especially General Chiwenga and his team who midwifed the smooth transfer of power from iconic president Robert Mugabe to the new and promising president Mnangagwa. The ZDF proved beyond reasonable doubt that it is a force of the people.”
Central committee member Daniel Shumba, speaking as a Zanu PF politician, war veteran, and retired army officer, said “a new page has been turned in the political landscape of our country.”
“This is our only country thus we have a collective responsibility and obligation to make it the best that it can be. Let us embrace each other and our diversity in order to uniquely shape our future,” Shumba, a retired Colonel, told the Daily News.
“Mutual respect, inclusiveness, hard work, and a shared vision that is underpinned in Godly principles is our only choice. The new president will only be as good as the support we render him. It’s the collective effort that will punctuate our Zimbabwe.