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ED’s 5-year tenure divides public opinion – NewsDay

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

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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Biden: Willing to Talk to Putin About Ending War in Ukraine – VOA Zimbabwe

WHITE HOUSE AND WASHINGTON —

U.S. President Joe Biden raised the possibility Thursday of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate an end to Moscow’s war against Ukraine but said he had yet to see any willingness on Putin’s part to halt his 10-month invasion.

“I’m prepared to talk to Putin but only in consultation with NATO allies,” Biden said at a White House news conference after holding several hours of private talks with French President Emmanuel Macron about Ukraine and other issues. “I have no immediate plans to contact Mr. Putin. I’m not going to do it on my own.”

“There’s one way for this war to end, Putin to pull out of Ukraine,” Biden said. “It’s sick what he’s doing. If he’s looking for a way to end the war, he hasn’t done that.”

Macron said he was confident the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine with more military and humanitarian assistance.

“It’s about our values,” the French leader said. “Having the U.S. support Ukraine … is very important.”

Biden said the U.S. “will never ask Ukraine to compromise” to end the war without the consent of the Kyiv government.

Earlier, before their private discussions, Biden said as he welcomed Macron for the first state visit of a foreign leader during his presidency, “France and the United States are facing down Vladimir Putin’s ambition.”

“The alliance between our two nations remains essential for our defense,” Biden said. “The U.S. could not ask for a better partner than France.” He described France as “our oldest ally and unwavering partner in freedom’s cause.”

Macron, speaking on a sunny but chilly morning in Washington, said, “As war returns to European soil with Russian aggression against Ukraine, and in light of the multiple crises facing our nations and societies, we need to become brothers-in-arms once more.”

He said Washington and Paris “share the same faith in freedom and democratic values.”

While agreeing on their determination to support Ukraine, Macron expressed sharp concerns to Biden about the U.S. leader’s Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, approved by Congress earlier this year that provides billions of dollars to support the U.S. clean energy industry, and a separate measure that bolsters U.S. semiconductor manufacturers.

Macron told congressional leaders Wednesday that the measure was “super aggressive” toward European companies.

“The consequence of the IRA is that you will perhaps fix your issue, but you will increase my problem,” he said, noting that France makes “exactly the same products as you.”

At the news conference, Biden said the legislation was “never intended to exclude” European trading partners. “We’re back in business,” he said of U.S. economic advances. “Europe is back in business.”

Macron said, “France wants the same new manufacturing jobs.”

Biden acknowledged that some aspects of the legislation might need to be tweaked, as he put it, and said he was confident that U.S. and European negotiators could work out differences so both the U.S. and European economies can prosper.

The pomp and circumstance of a White House state visit for a foreign leader was on full display, with Biden and first lady Jill Biden greeting Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, and then watching as a band in colonial uniforms played the national anthems of both countries. A 21-gun salute for Macron’s visit rang out.

The two leaders and their wives waved from the White House balcony before Biden and Macron went inside for substantive talks. A state dinner was planned for the evening.

The Bidens took the Macrons to Fiola Mare, an upscale Italian seafood restaurant overlooking the Potomac River, on Wednesday evening.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Bid for more MICE events: ZTA – Zimbabwe Independent

ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority Chief Executive, Ms Winnie Muchanyuka has urged players in the tourism and hospitality players to collaborate with government in bidding for Meetings Incentives Conferences Exhibitions Tourism (MICE) events.

Muchanyuka was speaking at the 2022 edition of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Congress which kicked off in Victoria Falls yesterday. 

“I would like to encourage the hospitality industry to continue working closely with the ZTA and other government arms to jointly formulate strategies to bid for more MICE business. We must find strategic ways to collaborate in our quest to promote Zimbabwe as a first choice MICE destination,” said Muchanyuka. 

“There is a lot of potential for us to create more MICE businesses locally. We just need to have a more collaborative approach as a sector. If you look at our statistics for this year, you will find out that MICE contributed quite significantly to the general recovery of the sector.

Muchanyuka said hoteliers have indicated that most of the MICE business was generated from the domestic market which was mostly constituted of government agencies, the corporate sector and nongovernmental organisations.

“MICE business continues to be the dominating force in generating room occupancies for hotels,” she said. 

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Zim traverses globe to reclaim tourism markets – NewsDay

THE battle to reclaim tourism markets have accelerated since governments eased Covid-19 pandemic restrictions this year. In an interview with our business reporter Freeman Makopa (FM) this week, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu (MN) tells us the strides the country has made. Below are excerpts of the interview:

FM: What is the outlook for the tourism industry?

MN: Since the beginning of the year, global tourism has continued to exhibit signs of consistent recuperation from the adverse consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Current trends for Zimbabwe have shown recovery, which has been supported by the bouncing back of worldwide inbound travel and growth in domestic tourism.

FM: How has the industry performed this year?

MN: The first nine months of 2022 saw a 165% rise in tourist arrivals. Arrivals increased to 693 498 during the period, from 261 415 during the same period in 2021. This is more than double the number of international arrivals received during the first nine months of 2021.

FM: This means hotel room occupancies have also improved

MN: Yes, on average, occupancies for the first nine months of 2022 grew by 21 percentage points. Occupancies rose from 21% in 2021 to 42% in 2022. Overall, this performance has been reinforced by domestic tourism, which is dominant, contributing 95% of tourism business in 2022.

FM: How has Zimbabwe managed to drum up domestic tourism during this difficult period, economically?

MN: Like any other country, Zimbabwe is traversing through the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the on-going war in Ukraine. These have affected global economies, travel and trade. Given this economic situation, the tourism sector is implementing the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy (TRGS), which is driving the growth of tourism. This is mainly through campaigns to accelerate meetings, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) and domestic tourism. The ZimBho, MeetInZim and InvestInZim campaigns have stimulated domestic and business tourism.

FM: Please share the investment levels into the sector attributable to these campaigns

MN: These campaigns have contributed to tourism growth doubling for January to September 2022 as alluded to earlier. There have been investments totalling US$306,7 million during the period, from US$90,4 million. This was mostly invested into accommodation facilities and vehicle hire.

FM: How do you plan to sustain this growth trajectory?

MN: The tourism sector is guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1, 2021 to 2025 and the TRGS. NDS1 agitates for the growth of the tourism sector through increased investment into diversified products, while TRGS seeks to grow the tourism economy to US$5 billion by 2025. The ministry has the following programmes in place, in its endeavour to achieve the NDS1 goals: product development and diversification, instituting ease of doing business reforms, climate proofing of the tourism sector and establishing a tourism satellite account.

FM: Tell us about the role of the private sector in these initiatives

MN: Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is government-led and private sector driven. The ministry and the private sector already have synergies to promote the country through bilateral agreements signed with other countries in the region and abroad. The ministry is currently implementing memoranda of understanding on cooperation in the field of tourism with South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These provide the public and private sectors the opportunity to jointly market and promote destinations, exchange of programmes for professional in the sector and joint collaboration of private sector associations. Government also supports private sector participation at international travel fairs through subsidising participation fees of operators. The ministry through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), jointly with the private sector, participates annually at fairs such as World Travel Market in London, International Travel Bourse in Berlin, Germany and Indaba Travel Fair in Durban, South Africa. 

FM: What else is the government doing?

MN: Over and above the synergies, the ministry is establishing market presence in the country’s key tourism source markets. Two tourism attachés were deployed in August and September 2022 to China and the United Arab Emirates. An additional nine tourism attachés were recently appointed and are expected to be deployed in the first quarter of 2023 to Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, India, South Africa, China and Japan. Physical presence in key source markets and the joint synergies with the private sector will aid government in promoting the destination internationally, attracting more tourists to the country.

FM: Tell us about financial support to the industry.

MN: The government of Zimbabwe has put in place several incentives to help the tourism sector. These include duty rebates on capital equipment for use in tourism development zones.  We also have SI 10 of 2022, which spells out rebate on duty for safari vehicles and tour buses and SI 279 of 2019, which spells out rebates in respect of new capital equipment for expansion, modernisation and renovation of hotels and restaurants within hotels.

The funding also supports boat equipment imports, among others. There are also tax breaks in tourism development zones and tax exemptions for investments into the Victoria Falls tourism special economic zone. 

FM: What are the developments on the electricity front, with regards to tourism?

MN: Electricity and water are already subsidised by the government. As a result, Zimbabwe has one of the cheapest utilities in the Sadc region in this respect. The government of Zimbabwe in 2018 launched the National Tourism Masterplan, which is an overarching guide to the development of tourism in Zimbabwe. The master plan identified potential tourism nuggets to grow new tourist attractions in Zimbabwe. The plan has identified 11 tourism development zones in Harare, Eastern Highlands, Chimanimani, Gonarezhou, Limpopo, Great Zimbabwe, Midlands, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Mavhuradonha. Government has put in place incentives to support investments into special economic zones and tourism development zones that investors can take advantage of.

The national tourism policy agitates for an enabling environment to attract investment into the sector. It also uses tourism to attract foreign direct investment into the country. At the same time, the government will ensure the industry is protected from disinvestment through primary and secondary legislation.

FM: Are you happy with accessibility?        

MN: Accessibility is the backbone of the growth of tourism destinations. And air accessibility contributes significantly to the growth of regional and international tourist arrivals to any destination. Air Zimbabwe, therefore, plays a critical role in providing direct access to Zimbabwe from key source markets and an instrumental role in national identity. The airline connects Harare with local destinations such as Victoria Falls. To strengthen the role of Air Zimbabwe in connecting travellers, the government has allowed private sector players such as Fasjet and Kuva Air to fly from Harare to Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Kariba. We are fully behind the capacitation of the airline and the massive investment in the expansion of the ports of entry.

FM: We have seen more airlines returning to this market. Please share with us what has been happening

MN: The cross-cutting role of infrastructure development, such as the expansion of airports has a huge impact on all sectors of the economy. Airport expansion will boost the country’s growth and transformation in trade and tourism as part of strides. Airport expansion, as seen with at Victoria Falls International Airport, will attract new aircrafts and airlines.

The expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport saw African airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Air Botswana, Fastjet, Airlink and Kenya Airways increasing flight frequencies to the resort town.

It also attracted new airlines like Eurowings from Germany and Mack Air from Botswana.

This also increased the airport’s passenger handling capacity from 500 000 a year to about 1,5 million. 

Expansion will, therefore increase regional and international tourist arrivals into the country, tourism receipts and the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product as well as attainment of the US$ 5billion tourism sector by 2025.

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