HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe has begun making sturdy progress towards economic revival, but appealed for patience while the government works on fulfilling its promises.
President Mnangagwa, who took office on November 24 last year, inherited a faltering economy characterised by high unemployment, depressed industrial production, a huge budget deficit and high foreign and local debt.
The economy had also suffered from years of isolation as investors shied away due to unfriendly policies, while vices such as corruption were allowed to fester under the previous administration, worsening the economic rot.
But since assuming office, the new administration has gone in overdrive to correct the ills of the previous era.
The new government, which has received widespread support even from countries which were previously hostile, has placed re-engagement with the global community and building a robust, open and transparent economy at the top of its agenda.
In a statement as he approaches his first 100 days in office this week, President Mnangagwa highlighted some of achievements which demonstrated that the country was on a new trajectory.
He said his government had passed a bold and responsible budget which cut unnecessary expenditure including luxuries previously enjoyed by high ranking public officials.
The President said government had also scaled back the indigenisation law, making it only applicable to investments in diamond and platinum mining, in a bid to lure more investors.
“On corruption, the phrase zero tolerance approach has been backed up by action. We instituted a three month amnesty to get back stolen funds, mandated all cabinet ministers to declare assets, created dedicated anti-corruption courts in all provinces and clamped down on police roadblocks,” he said in a post on his official face book page as he approaches his 100th day in office.
“Internationally we have been working hard to build our international relations and bring in investment and so far we have secured $3 billion worth of investment commitments from some of the biggest companies in the world.”
On health delivery, President Mnangagwa said government had directed all public health institutions to scrap treatment fees for vulnerable groups including children under the age of five, pregnant women and senior citizens above 65 years.
He said the government had also facilitated greater use of mobile money to combat the cash crisis and cut excise duty on petrol, which resulted in the reduction of fuel prices.
But, he said real change could only be realised through concerted efforts.
“We must of course be realistic and recognise that it takes more than 100 days to recover an economy, real change takes time,” he said.
“I know there are those among you who are frustrated at the pace of change and I understand that, but let me assure you that though we have had some major achievements, this is just the beginning. After 100 days of action we are on the right path and will keep working to increase that pace of reform.”
President Mnangagwa has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections this year and upholding the rights of free speech, free expression and free association.
The new government has its work cut out for it as it seeks to appease a nation that has been traumatised by years of social, political and economic decay.
Already, optimism has grown among Zimbabweans that social and economic challenges of the past decade and half would soon be a thing of the past. – New Ziana