Zimbabwe is headed for Presidential elections on the 30th of July this year. Investors and the business world seem to be focused on the pre and post elections environment-how they are held, their results and if there is going to be violence. This is important to know if investment in Zimbabwe is not lost through instability. As for ordinary Zimbabweans, hungry for development and progress, their eyes are on election candidates, debating on which presidential candidate is best qualified to economically rebuild the country that witnesses cash and foreign currency shortages. This article takes us through candidates racing for Zimbabwe’s top post into the State House.
A Tale of Two Horses
Having the guts to invest your life in mainstream politics is no child’s play. For a woman, it is a remarkable stance to voluntarily make the decision to be a politician. No matter how much history books will be altered Dr Joyce Mujuru is a liberation war heroine of great esteem. Post-independence, a heroine in the form Dr Thokozani Khupe survived the brunt of opposition politics. Both female candidates are highly educated and have served in the higher offices of government. Is Zimbabwe ready for a female president? Looking at how leadership in the top political formations is constituted in terms of gender the assumption is NO. Dr Nkosana Moyo’s campaign approach is adorable but somewhat ahead of its time, we still want to dance and ululate at rallies before we can lend anyone an ear, bless him.
The list of presidential aspirants and their consequent attributes is endless, however, the court of public opinion has already concluded that the coming elections are a two-horse race between two lawyers, former cabinet ministers and long-time confidantes of their predecessors, Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa and Advocate Nelson Chamisa(NC). The construction of the state of the art military college during ED’s tenure as defence minister in the GNU is very commendable. Of course, theories of his objectivity only in this ministry and the role of the military in his ascendancy to power will always pop up but we cannot take anything away from progressiveness as we must appreciate the importance of increasing human capital in a 21st-century military institution. Whilst NC was awarded minister of the year after initiating result-based management and e-government. His ICT policy also oversaw scrapping of duty on technological goods including sim cards consequently making connectivity affordable for all. Besides the usual hard-line fanaticism, this article seeks to provide non-populist guidelines to “predict” our candidates’, particularly Chamisa, performance as president.
The Presidential Character
When a citizen votes for a presidential candidate he makes, in effect, a prediction. He chooses from among the contenders the one he thinks (or feels, or guesses) would be the best President. He operates in a situation of immense uncertainty” (Barber, 1985). James Barber in his article, The Presidential Character, declares that an individual’s character can be used to predict his performance as a president. The qualities that can be considered as good for presidency include a strong vision for the future, effective communication skills, courage to make unpopular decisions, crisis management skills, character and integrity as well as wise appointments.
Strong Vision for the Future
ED has been on a massive investment engagement programme. We have witnessed many “mega deals” being penned which would transform the economic face of the country and probably justify the projections contained in his manifesto. Yes, we will be sceptical but then it’s not meant to be comprehended easily lest the vision is weak. NC has literally sent the social spheres into a frenzy with his “giraffe anointing” vision. Bullet trains, economic zone airports, spaghetti roads, devolution of power and e-government are among the many catchy terms we have been accustomed to as we follow the MDC Alliance campaign trail. Most of us don’t understand the relevance of it all, but then again if it’s easy to comprehend it’s not strong enough.
Crisis Management Skills
Chamisa’s ascendancy to power will come with its fair share of debate. In my opinion, it was clear that a substantial acting president had to be determined to avoid a chaotic funeral procession. That vacuum had to be filled. He had the “courage to make an unpopular decision” which had others whispering, but the moment had been seized. Given the success (or rather progress) of his campaign trail, we can only applaud from the terraces. ED’s tenure came at the backdrop of compromised international relations. Remarkably so, ED he has managed to mend relations with the international community and consequently has earned appreciation with the international community pledging to support Zimbabwe and its people alas on condition that he presides over a credible election.
In all fairness, Zimbabweans want progressive change in any form and this is the reason why operation restore legacy was appreciated by the masses. The prospect of a progressive and inclusive governance culture. However, hot water might have been poured on people’s hopes with literally the first stride by recycling an unpopular cabinet and the people’s scepticism has been justified by the minimal progress in government since. NC’s test in this regard will come as we read into the progress of his latest party appointments.
Character & Integrity
NC’s student activism days’ narrations are full of a courage and determination driven script. His personal progress has been remarkable. From studying marketing at a polytechnic college to holding multiple university qualifications and attaining outstanding awards, points to a man whose vision is beyond basic. it is interesting to highlight that NC’s tenure in government came with no known or speculated scandal. ED, nicknamed the CROCODILE, has a documented nature of being careful with his words and especially calculative. How he outmanoeuvred his predecessor to end up at the helm of Zanu PF still baffles many. With the way he has continued to concentrate more on government business at the height of an election campaign of this nature could be a direct indicator of his confidence, nature and calculative-ness.
In a follow up article, I will discuss the importance of Zimbabweans as a people to adapt a change of mentality if any government (current or new) policy is to work and our country is to progress. This includes abiding by regulations and adopting a formal approach to economic activity.
NB: This article does not in any manner or what so ever does not point out to the values and beliefs of bhizimusi.com or its affiliates. However, it has been edited for further clarity to its readers.