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ED’s 5-year tenure divides public opinion – Newsday Zimbabwe

THE history of Zimbabwe is etched on the fateful events of November 14 and 21, 2017 an eventful week that saw soldiers roll their tanks onto the streets of Harare, culminating in the forced resignation of Robert Gabriel Mugabe as the country’s President.

The fateful evening of November 14 when convoys of army vehicles rumbled through Harare, leading to the takeover of the national broadcaster and the peaceful demonstration by millions of Zimbabweans against Mugabe is well documented.

Tuesday, November 21 heralded a new era for the southern African nation when Mugabe grudgingly resigned, paving way for Emmerson Mnangagwa to return to Zimbabwe from exile the following day to be welcome by thousands of praise-singing Zanu PF supporters at the party headquarters in Harare.

Mnangagwa immediately declared that he would be a ‘listening President’ who would unshackle the people of Zimbabwe from the yoke of poverty.

When Mnangagwa was sworn in as President, he was received by all and sundry — even the leading opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai graced the occasion that was attended by leaders from the whole Southern African Development Community region.

Mnangagwa was seen as the saviour of the Zimbabwean people when he assumed power.

His catch phrase back then was: “Voice of the people is the voice of God” and later joined by the declaration that “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

However, five years after Mnangagwa grabbed power in a military-backed takeover, Zimbabweans have become so divided on how he has performed after the events of November 2017.

Even up to this very day, Zimbabweans are still divided on whether Mnangagwa came to power through a “coup” or a “transition”.

However, many are arguing bitterly over his five-year leadership amid misgivings and general disdain from the majority impoverished citizens.

But like any other community, there are staunch Zanu PF functionaries who believe Mnangagwa has done exceptionally well considering the doldrums that Zimbabwe was in.

Political analysts have also painted a picture of a divided nation, reflecting how polarised Zimbabwe has grown to be since Mnangagwa assumed power.

In an interview with NewsDay, political analyst Effie Ncube described the five years Mnangagwa has been in power as a “complete political and economic disaster”.

“For example, during his tenure, the triple evils of poverty, hunger and unemployment have risen exponentially driving more and more people into misery,” he charges.

“Human rights violations and the erosion of democratic principles and the rule of law have worsened. Willingness to hold free and fair elections has completely crumbled. Corruption remains rampant and Zimbabwe ranks very low in critical global indices such as the rule of law, transparency, and ease of doing business. Crucial democratic reforms have been ignored.”

Ncube said Zimbabwe was more divided than it was five years ago.

“Instead of reaching out to political opponents, the President has demonstrated serious paranoia, something that has hamstrung his ability to bring the country together. Put simply, the President has failed on the economic and political reform agenda he set himself when he came to power,” he argued.

University of London professor of politics Stephen Chan said Mnangagwa’s tenure in office had been very unsuccessful.

“The economy is still unstable, and the outside world is still not convinced that a fair playing field is assured for the next elections and for democratic expression before then,” he said.

Chan also further argued that Mnangagwa’s foreign policy has been very lacklustre.

“He has, in fact, not really reached out to anyone apart from China. It cannot be said that Zimbabwe has gained any new friends during the President’s time in office,” he said.

Chan said although Mugabe could be very authoritarian, he had greater pragmatism.

“When he (Mugabe) realised he had no choice, but to deal in government with Tsvangirai, he did so, sometimes even with a note of grace and certainly with good manners at least in public. Mnangagwa has not shown such pragmatism and grace towards (CCC leader Nelson) Chamisa,” he said.

He said Mnangagwa had failed to deliver on his promises, adding that Zimbabwe would continue to wallow in the doldrums of poverty without the necessary infrastructure to drive investment and development.

“The hollowest mantra has been ‘open for business’. If he had surrounded himself with business advisers, Mnangagwa would have known that no one comes to invest based on a sound bite.

“The infrastructure for serious investment is not there. Even the Chinese privately complain about having to provide the entire infrastructure themselves. And blaming sanctions increasingly sounds like a worn out gramophone record,” he said.

Political and social commentator Alexander Rusero, however, noted that five years is relatively a small period in politics.

“It would be very impractical to draw a comparative balance sheet of the Mugabe-led government of 37 years and the ED-led government of five years,” he opined. “Thus a considerable judgment would require more time. When you assume power in the manner Mnangagwa did, the first immediate project would be the consolidation of power at all costs.

“Mnangagwa’s power base, emerging from the shadows of being militarily catapulted to power, has strengthened and emerged stronger. He is surely currently in charge.”

He, however, argued that the change of guard from Mugabe to Mnangagwa has largely been characterised by continuities more than discontinuities.

“There some takeaways, however, notably issues to do with the road rehabilitation programme and some infrastructure development, you can’t take that away from him. However the ugly guerrilla tactics of Zanu still remain — abductions, narrowing of democratic space as well as binary characterisation of citizens as enemies or friends,” Rusero further argued, noting that there would be a period when Mnangagwa would reach out to members of the vanquished G40 cabal.

“There may be some behind-the-scenes negotiations already taking place, I haven’t seen much trading and scolding of late between the groups, meaning something could be happening,” he said.

Rusero expressed disappointment over Mnangagwa’s shortcomings, especially in fulfilling promises made when he took over from Mugabe.

“It is one thing to make promises; it is another to fulfil them. There is something magical about microphones which makes those speaking through them becoming excitable.  We risk mistaking political statements pronounced through microphones at rallies as sound policy principles deserving scrutiny for their fulfilment or not,” he added.

Zanu PF activitist and international law expert Masimba Mavaza said comparing Zimbabwe’s political and economic reform efforts after Mugabe, Mnangagwa had done the “work of hundred years in one day”.

“The country’s trajectory over the next five years will be a wonder only found in a comic book. The developments executed by Mnangagwa are breath taking. People of Zimbabwe are asking: Where have you been all along? President Mnangagwa has deployed flowery and real reforms and provided a great movement towards genuine political and economic reforms,” he said.

Mavaza contended that political repression had disappeared in Zimbabwe, while the economy continues to grow.

“Mnangagwa has helped the country recover from years of mismanagement, corruption and State violence, international actors — including the United States have acknowledged the strides made by ED in a co-ordinated fashion to implement genuine political, economic, and security reforms,” he said.

Mavaza further argued that the country will continue in its economic rise in the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe.

“The greatest social achievement is removing Zimbabwe from a path of political polarisation, protests, political violence at the hands of the State, and economic deterioration.”

He hailed Mnangagwa’s efforts at spearheading developmental programmes without loans from the outside world.

“Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive has borne good results with him being invited to the United Kingdom, Davos and several other countries,” he said, adding that the President’s anti-corruption drive had also been successful.

“Tangible steps have been taken towards reconfiguring Zimbabwe’s economic and political arenas.”

For Mavaza, Mnangagwa fulfilled most of his promises and people who have invested their trust in him are not disappointed.

“This is exhibited by all civic groups stampeding to be associated with ED and what he believes in. Groups like MenBelievED, YoungWomen4ED, Varakashi4ED and Vapostori4ED among several others. Never in our lifetime has a leader become so popular,” he said.

Noting such achievements as the economic surplus government has recorded since Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power and the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar to curb inflation, he added: “Zimbabwe has seen stabilisation in fuel, food and electricity provision. Mnangagwa has shown that he is a good leader and he deserves your vote.”

As Zimbabwe prepares for yet another general election next year, the jury is still out assessing how Mnangagwa has performed in the highest office and whether people should continue investing their trust in him.


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India makes big strides in African healthcare – BBC

An Indian pharmacist pulls out a box of medicines from a shelf at a Generic Drug Store at the Victoria Hospital in BangaloreGetty Images

Like many African doctors, Peter Mativo had to travel overseas to complete his training.

In 2007 he left Kenya for Bangalore to pursue his goal of becoming a neurologist. After 18 months in India, he returned to Kenya and now works at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.

“Most of us train in India, as Africa is not a developed continent. We have a very poor economy with no medical infrastructure in place nor specialised training,” he says.

“I would have never been able to get a specialised degree if I would have not opted for India,” Mr Mativo says.

India is keen to strengthen such ties with Africa. It has identified the healthcare sector as one area where trade between the continents can flourish.

So young African doctors are encouraged to finish their training in India, meanwhile Indian healthcare firms are expanding all over Africa.

Dr Peter Mativo

Peter Mativo

“The African market is a natural fit for Indian pharmaceutical companies, as India is the largest provider of generic medicine in the world,” says Nisht Dubey.

Generic drugs made in India can sell at a quarter of the price of a branded equivalent, which makes them a popular choice in less well-off parts of the world.

“There is a big gap between demand and supply of medicines in Africa, with a huge disparity among rich and poor,” says Mr Dubey.

Spurred by a shortage of medicine and hospital equipment in Kenya during the Covid crisis, Mr Dubey set-up Goodstrain Pharma in 2020. It imports medicine and medical products from all over the world into Kenya.

Goodstrain’s warehouse and corporate offices are in Nairobi, but Mr Dubey wants it to expand across East Africa.

“Africa is the only pharmaceutical market where genuinely high growth is still achievable,” says Mr Dubey, who is originally from Uttar Pradesh in northern India.

But getting a firm going in Kenya has not been easy. Goodstrain’s very first shipment to Kenya was held up at customs for weeks – a major setback for the young firm.

Mr Dubey says they were not ready for the web of regulations covering imports. Now a third party, which specialises in clearing imports, handles that for them.

A medical officer is seen preparing to administer a covid-19 vaccine jab to a man at The Nakuru County Referral and Teaching Hospital. In May 2022

Getty Images

Africure Pharmaceuticals, has gone one step further than Goodstrain, by manufacturing pharmaceuticals in Africa.

The company, only founded in 2017, already has nine manufacturing facilities in Africa, employing 300 people across Cameroon, Namibia, Botswana and Côte d’Ivoire, with plans to build plants in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Africure’s factories make medications to treat pain, fever, inflammation, malaria, diabetes andhypertension, as well as a wide range of antibiotics.

“Africa over the years has been dependent on imports of medication from Europe, India, and China, which has resulted in the draining of precious foreign exchange, non-creation of job opportunities, and suffering the vagaries of supply and demand,” says Sinhue Noronha, founder and chief executive of Africure Pharmaceuticals.

Originally from Mumbai, Mr Noronha, hopes his firm will help tackle some of the problems in African healthcare.

“Our primary objective is to solve the persistent issues such as affordability, availability, low quality, technological dependence, and reliance on imports.

“All of our plants and distribution setups are engaged primarily to provide an uninterrupted supply of essential medicines.”

Goodstrain Pharma warehouse

Goodstrain Pharma

Mr Noronha says that Indian firms have a head start over rivals from elsewhere in the world.

“Indian manufacturers and importers are able to understand the African market because of our large diaspora presence in Africa.”

Even with those connections, Mr Noronha, has found building a business in Africa a bumpy experience.

“The biggest challenge is political instability. I may get a permission today to set up a manufacturing unit, and tomorrow the government or the health minister may resign. One has to be ready for any kind of eventuality,” he says.

He also says that personal safety is a consideration.

“Security is another big concern. murder and kidnapping are common in Africa. We Indians have to be very careful,” he says.

Broadly, Indian healthcare firms have a good reputation in Africa, but that hard won image has recently suffered significant damage.

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Police in The Gambia are investigating the deaths of 66 children, which have been linked to four brands of imported Indian cough syrup.

In October, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert over the cough syrups – warning they could be linked to acute kidney injuries and the children’s deaths in July, August and September.

“The Gambia incident is an aberration and we should feel bad about it,” says Udaya Bhaskar, director general of Pharmexcil, which promotes the export of Indian pharmaceuticals.

“This incident will certainly be a dent in our exports and the image of Indian pharma,” he says.

But he thinks the reputational damage will be short-lived.

“The important factor is that Africa is very dependent on other countries and India produces very good quality medicine, so the Gambia impact will be short-term.”

Back in Nairobi, Dr Mativo says the problem is the lack of testing facilities in Africa.

“The Gambia incident is sad. The biggest problem is we are not financially strong, nor do we have facilities which can check the standards of medicine supplied to us.”

He would like to see more products produced locally.

“In Africa most of the population cannot afford branded medicine… what we need is training and setting up manufacturing units in Africa.”

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S Africa’s Ramaphosa faces impeachment threat over farm scandal – Zimbabwe Independent

An independent panel appointed by the speaker of South Africa’s parliament has found preliminary evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa violated his oath of office, findings that could lead to his eventual impeachment.

Parliament will examine the report, which was submitted on Wednesday, and decide whether to push ahead with impeachment proceedings next week.

This comes just weeks before an elective conference that will decide if Ramaphosa gets to run for a second term on the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) ticket at 2024 polls.

The president immediately denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.

“I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me,” Ramaphosa said in a statement issued by the South African presidency on Wednesday.

On Thursday, he delayed an appearance in parliament to answer questions, requesting time to consider the report, noting that the panel’s recommendations had “implications for the stability of the country,” parliament said in a statement.

In June, it emerged that an estimated $4m in cash was stolen from Ramaphosa’s game farm in 2020, raising questions about how the billionaire president, who took to power on the promise of fighting corruption, acquired the money and whether he declared it.

The three-person panel was set up in September and tasked with ascertaining whether there was sufficient evidence to show that Ramaphosa committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law or grave misconduct, National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said when she was handed the report earlier on Wednesday.

The panel said Ramaphosa should face further scrutiny on his ability to stay in office.

“In all the circumstances, we think that the evidence presented to the Panel, prima facie, establishes that the president may be guilty of a serious violation of certain sections of the constitution,” the report found.

These include not reporting the theft directly to police, acting in a way inconsistent with holding office and exposing himself to a clash between his official responsibilities and his private business.

While Ramaphosa has confirmed that a robbery occurred at his farm, he said the cash was from proceeds from the sales of game. He has denied breaking the law or any regulations relating to his office.

John Steenhuisen, the leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Ramaphosa was in a tight bind, Reuters news agency reported.

“The report itself leaves the president in a virtually untenable position, particularly as it relates to his own party’s step-aside rules and the strong line that he has taken against others within his party,” he said.

Ramaphosa came to power in 2018 on a promise to root out graft after the corruption-stained era of his former boss, Jacob Zuma, and has generally insisted that any party official accused of corruption leave office pending investigations.

The alleged cover-up has tarnished the president’s reputation and overshadowed his bid for re-election at the helm of the ANC.

Ramaphosa, 70, is the favourite to win at the ruling party’s December 16-20 conference, where he faces a challenge from Zweli Mkhize, 66, an ex-health minister who resigned from the government last year amid corruption allegations.

In November, the spokesperson to the president, Vincent Magwenya, told journalists that Ramaphosa would “gladly step aside” if he were to be criminally charged.

The chances of impeachment are slim given the ANC’s dominance of parliament, where it holds 230 seats, or nearly 60 percent of the total, and typically votes along party lines. Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority.

The inquiry is separate from a criminal investigation that police are conducting, and which Ramaphosa has welcomed.

The report will be debated in the national assembly on December 6, said the speaker, Mapisa-Nqakula.

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America, Europe easing their stance on Zimbabwe – Bulawayo24 News

The current economic stability prevailing in the country is indirectly forcing the West to mend its relations with Zimbabwe, economic analysts have said.

Economic analysts, Abednigo Matsika said that the recent developments that include the invitation to the US-Africa summit and proposals towards re-joining the Commonwealth were a manifestation of how President Mnangagwa’s Engagement and Re-engagement policy was bearing fruits.

“We are witnessing a change of stance by the West on Zimbabwe. Of late, the West has been warming up to the Government and has been pouring money to support various developmental projects in the country. Recently, the EU pledged over 100 million Euros to support women empowerment and agriculture programmes in the country. This shows that relations between the West and Zimbabwe are thawing,” said Matsika.

Matsika added that days of Zimbabwe’s isolation by the West were coming to an end. He said the sudden surge of traffic by the EU, US and the United Kingdom (UK) into Zimbabwe was positive and will lead to the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West.

In explaining how Zimbabwe-West relations were warming up, Matsika said that last week, the country and EU signed financial agreements totalling US46 million under the Zimbabwe-EU cooperative programme. Matsika added that the US46 million aid was an affirmation that the engagement and re-engagement drive with the international community was bearing fruits and that the EU was rapidly moving out of the sanctions orbit.

According to Matsika, the recent visit by the Commonwealth delegation led by Assistant Secretary General, Luis Franschesci shows that the bloc was willing to have Zimbabwe as member of that community. He added that the imminent readmission of Zimbabwe to Commonwealth would spur economic growth and open an avalanche of business opportunities for the country.

Meanwhile, a source within CCC said that the thawing of relations between Zimbabwe and the West had triggered uncertainty within that party which traditionally survives on Zimbabwe’s isolation from the rest of the World. The CCC feels that these developments would rob it of an advantage of boasting that they have the keys to the removal of sanctions and to good relations with the West.

The source said that CCC was plotting to stage violent demonstrations to tarnish the image of the Government.

“The CCC leadership has been shocked by the thawing of relations between Zimbabwe and the West. We are now planning to stage violent demonstrations in a bid to compel the state security to arrest participants. The idea is to portray Zimbabwe as a country that represses the opposition voice,” said the source.

The source further claimed that Chamisa recently held a caucus meeting with his few trusted lieutenants and expressed worry over the surveys that continue to signpost a ZANU PF victory in the forthcoming elections.

According to the source, Chamisa informed his friends in the region and beyond that a political strategist had advised him to stage violent protests in the country and blame ZANU PF for the same. The move according to the source is meant to force the West to tighten up screws on sanctions.

“Without sanctions, we are gone. We must create conditions that help our supporters, including those in the UK and US to disrupt the reengagement process. We would disrupt the current economic stability .We need economic pain to win,” said the source.

The source added that Chamisa was assembling a team of ruffians who would stage the demonstrations and subsequently get arrested.

On the other side, a ZANU PF supporter Regai Chandiwana of Seke argued that the improvement of relations between Zimbabwe and the West and the possibility of the removal of sanctions would level the electoral playing field which had, hitherto been skewed in favour of the opposition.

“They had the advantage of holding the electorate hostage by threatening to ensure that sanctions would continue to bite if citizens do not vote for the CCC. If   sanctions are lifted, then for the first time in history elections would be fair,” said Chandiwana.

Meanwhile, efforts to get a comment from CCC interim national spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere were futile as her phone was not reachable.

All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24’s community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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