Economist and member of the President’s Advisory Council, Eddie Cross, has listed seven things that he feels President Emmerson Mnangagwa should do this year to remain focused and steer the country to achieve its vision to become an upper middle income country by 2030.
1-First is your health, Mr President, your position puts enormous pressure on you and this year will be no different. You need to be physically in good shape and that depends on two main things – what you eat and physical exercise. As we get older we need to pay even more attention to these. In our Men’s Fellowship at Church we had a talk last year about how to prepare for old age, our speaker started out by saying that number one was our health. If we did not have that, pensions and all the rest, does not matter. You cannot do justice to your job as our President if you neglect your health.
2-Second, organise your Office or get someone to do it for you. If you do not have people to protect you from the non-essential and time wasting activities, they will swamp you and prevent you from making the key decisions, which is your primary responsibility. I have been a CEO in a major organisation and I know the value of a gate keeper and someone who will manage me and my schedule. Almost like having your mother working for you in the front office, someone with your best interests at heart. If fact, I would go beyond that and say that sometimes I wonder who is doing this for you because I have observed you being involved in activities that are really a waste of your time. This can be deliberate.
3-Thirdly security and stability. I fear in this realm I may well be talking to a man who knows much more about this subject than myself. However, I put it on the list because if we do not have these, very little else will work. A political leader always has enemies and people who might want his job. As a CEO I was always astonished at how many people thought they could do a better job than I. In politics this factor is magnified tenfold. In your first two and half years at the helm of this Country you have given us both and not just in the physical realm but also in financial and fiscal terms. I know it was your personal decision to introduce the currency auction and I am sure you appreciate how transformative that decision has been.
4-Fourthly, do not be afraid to take time to reflect on your situation and the position of the country as a whole. If you do not have time for this sort of activity, you are too busy. It is easy to fill your days with activity and yet achieve very little. Some of your most productive time will be when you are alone and can put your feet on the desk. Your country needs you to think things through so that your judgements are soundly based. And when you have made a decision make sure you get the right people to follow through. So often I have seen decent decisions (like the decision to unbundle Fidelity Printers and reorganise the gold sector) only to see the decision messed up by secondary activity that defeats the objective you had in mind.
5-Fifthly, do not take your eyes off the ball. I know this is a sport thing, but in business we have a saying, your first priority in business is to stay afloat. It’s not to make a profit, although that is important – just how to stay in business. Many do not understand that or appreciate it, every person who has been in business knows he has to meet the payroll at the end of the month. For you, Mr President you have to face re-election in 2023. If you fail, then you fail in everything. The one thing Mr Trump is going to understand is that on the 21st of this month, he is on the street, even the street kids will forget his name.
In your case every five years you have to persuade people to vote for you and allow you to govern their affairs for another term. In a Supermarket, the team has to win that battle every day because the competition is around the corner. That is why they pay attention to detail and to their customer’s needs, every day, every hour. Your task is not as onerous, but just as crucial. We have talked about this but I see no sign of these matters in your list of priorities that need your attention. If you granted those who have built hundreds of thousands of houses on land they do not have title to, title, it would cost virtually nothing, could be done in a year and would create wealth on a scale never seen before in our history. Wealth not in the hands of the elite, they are already too well provided for, but in the hands of millions of ordinary Zimbabwean families.
If through the unbundling of Fidelity Printers and Refineries you introduced a new gold production and marketing system that gave the small scale informal miners security of tenure and a decent price for their gold, you would raise the living standards of millions and put wealth in the form of assets into the hands of hundreds of thousands. You would deal with criminality and smuggling and solve our problems of servicing our national debt and servicing the needs of a growing economy.
Your new strategies in agriculture are bearing fruit, stick to your guns and see it through to the logical end. Do not allow selfish, self-seeking opportunists to derail your efforts and within two years we will be self-sufficient in food at lower prices and millions on the land will enjoy a new prosperity and self-sufficiency.
6-Sixthly, never lose sight of the small man or the small gesture. You are the most powerful figure in the country. I watched the magic of Mandela when he was President. Walking onto the Rugby field at Ellis Park in the Jersey of the South African Springbok Captain, was a brilliant move. I have a friend in Durban who is a wealthy man. He got a call from Mandela one day, asking him to sponsor a school in rural Natal. He did so and when the school was opened the President came to do it personally and invited this man to the event. There he brought him to the front of a crowd of thousands and thanked him. Then his wife was asked to hand out a small gift (provided by the President) to every child in the school. That man said to me if he was asked to do it again, he would not hesitate, it cost him R22 million.
7-Finally, Mr President, you are a lawyer and I know a very clever one. We need to see the law observed, in every way, in our national affairs. The rule of law and the Constitution is perhaps one of the most important features of good government. Our record is not good. Why do you allow the agencies under your control to use the law as a weapon rather than a system that protects and preserves value. These violations draw the attention of the world and overshadow everything else you are doing. If you personally intervened in these matters it would catch the attention of the world and your own people. Make sure in 2021 that your Chief Justice ensures that the Courts work for everyone.
Mr President, leadership makes the difference, in every sphere, schools, hospitals, business and politics. We can all make a difference, but no one more than yourself. As we enter a new year we pray for you and wish you every blessing and strength as you lead us into the future.