BY Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana
DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Your Excellency, a sage stated that a carpenter whose only tool is a hammer is an unproductive craftsman. He cannot produce a basic stool, given that his only tool, the hammer, cannot be used for measuring, cutting or planning.
As I see it, the dilemma of such a carpenter compares well with the desperation with which your Presidency is meandering, dependent on statutory instruments (SIs). Truly, in more was than one, edicts are your only tool, just as the carpenter with only a hammer.
Henceforth, your military-aided wrest of power, one conspicuous trait of your Presidency is the rapid-fire issuance of edicts. Ordinarily, the Constitution is regarded as solid and all encompassing. It, therefore, confounds the citizenry that you barrage them with edicts.
Given the rapidity with which you are promulgating edicts, Zimbabwe cannot be open for business. All in all, your promise to deliver the Zimbabwe the citizenry want stands altogether in jeopardy. Evidence abounds that amid the outpour of edicts, citizenry are incapacitated.
Methinks you are churning them out impulsively, without thought and consideration, like the scriptural sower. Consequently, with each edict, there are incremental diminishing returns. Truly, these edicts negatively impact the country.
It induces profound unease that a plenitude of edicts were signed into law by midyear. As they increase, debate on their issuance ought be imperative. They awaken the conscience of citizenry to the need to deliberate about the orderliness of the Presidency.
After all, it is typical of despots to rule by decrees with the incumbent being more vicious than their predecessor. It also gives credence to the lack of probity that was given as reason for your dismissal from the party and Vice-Presidency.
As I see it, just as a carpenter with only a hammer cannot produce furniture, likewise, you cannot attract the mega deals by an overly issuance of edicts. Essentially, they are meant to be occasioned only as acts of last resort to address urgent and extremely pressing matters.
Methinks the rate with which you are sprouting them amounts to usurpation of Parliament. Indeed, they must be issued soberly, just as the pharmacist dispenses medicine. There could never be compelling justification for your obsession with edicts.
It has degenerated to a constitutional annoyance that they are being issued now and then. Frankly, the frequency with which you are effecting them has gone beyond the tolerable limits of the reasonable man. It now disspirits the citizenry as much as it dispels investors.
Actually, lawmaking is a constitutional mandate of Parliament, save for rare urgent situations where parliamentary processes might be agreed to be too long to wait. As I see it, it is all but an act of unbriddled usurpation that you are addicted to circumventing parliament.
Your Excellency, the flooding of edicts is not remedy for the brokenness of the economy. Although the country is stuck to an unimaginable low, confronted by a multitude of teething woes, never fool yourself into believing that they are a propitious quick fix tool.
They are not a panacea, neither are they an elixir of life. Amid your resorting to them, the socioeconomic fibre has essentially been threaded. With the entire civil servants wholly reduced to being a poor working class, who needs an accuser when failure is all around you?
It must have dawned on you by now that your insatiable appetite for edicts is not a versatile recovery strategy. Methinks by continuous use of them, you conversely were embarking on mission into futility, akin to constructing the Tower of Babel.
Although I have been deferring to share with you my perspective on edicts, the recent one, SI 118A of 2022 has roused me into debate. On one hand, it legalises the use of foreign currency in settling local transactions. Essentially, it fuels the debate on dollarisation.
Yet, on the other hand, it proclaims stiff penalties for retailers who charge their services or wares at local currency prices at 10% above prevailing interbank rate published by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. It imposes draconian penalties, ones that are red in tooth and claw, that are not in harmony with the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra.
Your Excellency, these arm and leg penalties dispel investors. They are contrary to the expected warmheartedness of a country that is desperate to parade itself as being open for business, in word and deed. As I see it, they are an impediment to free market interplay.
Admittedly, all is not well in the country. With political intolerance heightening to explosion temperatures, and the economy having gone worse off than to the dogs, Zimbabwe is now God forsaken. Yet, the edicts have not been able to heave the country from the morass.
It is delusionary to expect investment to come in leaps and abounds on the backdrop of edicts which are effected by and large on your whims. Be that as it may, as Bob Marley said in song, “when one door is closed, many more are open.”
Alternative investment destinations are aplenty throughout the region. As a sizeable number of citizens whose work permits were terminated in South Africa shudders at the prospect of returning to their broken fatherland, investors draw informed conclusions.
History abound with leaders who presided during trying times, yet they never resorted to edicts even marginally to your measure. Yet, they rose to the occasion with sincerity. Wartime Prime Ministers, Ian Smith and Winston Churchill, conversed with openness, true to impeccable Statesmen.
They led by use of legitimate power of leadership, which is the power to persuade. All they did was to provide leadership, direction and assurance for triumph beyond the trials and tribulations. They reached out to citizens passionately, in utmost good faith.
As United States 33rd President Harry Truman stated: “I sit here all day persuading people to do things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them. That is all the power of the President amounts to.” He earned Statemanship by effective communication with citizens.
Rightly so, he was perceived to be credible and well grounded, hence the public approval that was credited to him. Conversely, it takes a bumbling President, who is unsure of himself, to go on the rampage promulgating a series of edicts.
As I see it, the harmonized elections are destined to confirm you as the national bête noire … a French reference to a person particularly unwanted. It is my fervent conviction that I be present in the crowd of witnesses as the adage, every bridge has its toll, comes to pass.
Your Excellency, the dentist does not cure all diseases of the mouth. He cannot treat tonsillitis. Likewise, the military succeeded to bestow you with the Presidency. Yet, it is incapacitated to bequeath you with requisite Presidential sagasity, hence your futility of hedging on edicts.
- Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist