Open Letter to President E.D. Mnangagwa
Dear Mr President,
When you assumed office on the 24th of November 2017, you officially shouldered the hopes and great expectations of Zimbabweans both at home and in the diaspora. You pledged that your government would set a new, higher standard for transparency, accountability, program/service delivery, and ethics. You have pushed the sense that the government wasn’t functioning right and you would be the one to fix it. Your laudatory big-picture agenda and straight-forward appeal to fix the system has won you goodwill from the generality of Zimbabweans and the International Community.
Your new government has a responsibility to develop and implement an integrated, short, medium and long-range plan for creating a Zimbabwe where all our people share in the benefits of a healthy, just, sustainable and prosperous nation. Citizens also expect your government to deliver real, meaningful results, in a fair, efficient, and responsible manner.
At the moment, the generality of Zimbabweans are nervous and sometimes despondent. This reflects a deep loss of faith in government. Zimbabweans are disconcerted, and this may partly be due to a wildly distorted view of what your 100 days and beyond, priorities and plans are. Citizens perceive their institutions to be captured by elites who are disconnected from the needs of their constituents or complicit in schemes that benefit the powerful at the expense of ordinary citizens. People have solutions – but too often they are not being heard. The dearth of informed public debate and collective action to solve challenges has perpetuated the sense of disenfranchisement. People’s space to respectfully debate and disagree is constrained by a lack of opportunity and meaningful arenas in which to do so.
I acknowledge, Mr President, that you are engaged on an enormous task – economic relief and recovery. For the first, speed and quick results are essential. The second may be urgent too; but haste will be injurious, and wisdom of long range purpose is more necessary than immediate achievement. It will be through raising high the prestige of your government by success in short-range relief, that you will have the driving force to accomplish long-range recovery. If you succeed, we may date the first chapter of a new economic era from your accession to office. This is a sufficient reason why I have ventured to lay my reflections before you in good faith believing that you will give them your deserved time.
My main reflection relates to the cabinet ministers and the support staff you have appointed. The President truly is as good as his Ministers. It is my expectation that the appointed ministers will do their part in delivering on the promises to Zimbabweans. This is essential to ensure that your vision and plans are not held back by non-performance on the part of ministers.
However, I lay overwhelming emphasis on you Mr.President publicly releasing Ministerial mandate letters, which should outline overall expectations as well as more specific policy objectives for respective Ministers. These letters should outline the plans, strategies and programs that will provide for current and future needs, and create a foundation for the long-term success of all Zimbabweans. The letters should also underline the values that should inform the government’s work, like transparency, collaboration and a commitment to evidence. The mandate letters should direct each Minister to track and report on the progress of their commitments; assess the effectiveness of their work; and align resources with priorities, in order to get the results Zimbabweans want and deserve.
For Zimbabweans to trust your government you must trust Zimbabweans, and you will only be successful in implementing your agenda to the extent that you earn and keep this trust. The trust of Zimbabweans will also rest on the accountability of your government. In our system, the highest manifestation of democratic accountability is the forum of Parliament. Your ministers are accountable to parliament for the exercise of the powers, duties and functions with which they have been entrusted. This requires them to be present in parliament to answer honestly and accurately about their areas of responsibility, to take corrective action as appropriate to address problems that may arise in their portfolios, to correct any inadvertent errors in answering to Parliament at the earliest opportunity, and to work with parliamentary colleagues of all political persuasions in a respectful and constructive manner.
To be worthy of Zimbabwean’s trust, Mr President, your ministers must always act with integrity. They must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of their official duties and the arrangement of their private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. It is important that they acknowledge mistakes when they make them. Zimbabweans do not expect them to be perfect – they expect them to be honest, open, and sincere in their efforts to serve the public interest.
It is commendable, Mr President, that you have created a Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring government programmes. I believe it will focus on the essential elements of results-oriented monitoring and evaluation that responds to the requirements of government’s programmes, policies and projects for decision-making, accountability and learning. My hope is that this ministry will have unbridled capacity to acquire reliable and accurate information on Ministry and parastatals progress and performance, and to guide them in developing strategies and programmes, as well as in the allocation of resources, and to prompt interventions as required.
As a Zimbabwean and collectively with other well-meaning and patriotic Zimbabweans, we want to count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. I should expect successful policy and program outcomes with great confidence. How much that would mean, not only to the material prosperity of Zimbabwe, but in comfort to Zimbabweans mind through a restoration of their faith in the wisdom and the power of Government.
Vusi Nyamazana is a Political Analyst. Call or Whatsapp on +27 78 421 6302 or email [email protected]