The state of the nation address reveals a leader hoping for the better


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By Farai Chirimumimba

As Emmerson Mnangagwa navigate the last 8 months of his predecessor, Mr Robert Mugabe, he gave himself a “damning” report card on Wednesday — and a to-do list before the 2018 harmonised elections slotted for July/August. Delivering his maiden State of the Nation address in Harare, Mnangagwa was not expected to give a work report that summed up his achievements so far, rather he laid out the present state of the economy.

Standing on a podium before a joint sitting of parliament he spoke for 30  minutes, President  Mnangagwa did not mention Britain, the United States, or other specific policy headaches as was the norm with his predecessor .

Although Mnangagwa’s state-of-the-nation speech on was largely a cut-and-paste job from his inauguration and previous reports to ZANU-PF Politburo, Central Committee and extra-ordinary congress, it had a series of bullet-points that joined together to form a picture and signalled where the nation needs to go for progress.

The president seemed rather bouncy, and his audience were animated throughout the speech has he articulated the real bread and butter issues that resonate well with a common man on street.

Mnangagwa speech had elements that resembles a shopping list to which each cabinet minister must try to add one item. President Mnangagwa devoted nearly all of his first State of the Nation address to mending the economy. In summary the speech’s theme revolved around reforms from easy of doing business, cabinet performance expectations, zero tolerance to corruption and taking measures to ensure policy consistence that attract investment.

“My Govt will operate on clear performance targets for each ministry in 100-day cycles, as we seek to bring relief in the shortest possible time.” He touched on parastatals which for several years have been referred to as the “missing link” in efforts to resuscitate the economy because of their continued reliance and drain.on fiscus. Mnangagwa argued that “reforms he’s leading will need a skilled public bureaucracy and better run parastatals.”

President Mnangagwa speech however, stuck to template of reforms that will not directly negatively affect the electorate. Any pitch for a grand programme of reform would have sounded naive at this point in the electoral cycle. The ruling ZANU-PF expect to form government after next years elections were Mnangagwa will face a rejuvenated MDC Alliance led by Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai.