Mnangagwa’s failed agenda and unfulfillable dreams!

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Ever since Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa assumed the presidency of Zimbabwe, after a military coup d’état that toppled Robert Gabriel Mugabe, he has thrown around numerous mantras.

Immediately after usurping power, he went on a ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ campaign – touting the country under his administration as fundamentally different from the Mugabe era.

To prove his point, he branded his government as the ‘new dispensation’ – in spite of Mnangagwa having been a senior Mugabe official ever since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

Not only that, but he reversed some of Mugabe’s controversial signature policies – such as the land reform and indigenous programs.

These unpopular policies had placed the late leader into serious conflict with both the West (notably the UK and US), as well as the East (specifically China).

Under the land reform program launched at the dawn of the new millennium, Mugabe’s regime had sponsored the confiscation of largely white-owned farms ostensibly for redistribution to the previously marginalized black majority.

This was touted as ‘addressing or correcting historical injustices’.

As it turned out, most of the best farms – comprising massive tracts of land – ended up in the hands of only a few in the ruling elite.

In fact, Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, is reported to own 21 farms!

The majority of ordinary poor Zimbabweans still languish on infertile underdeveloped rural areas – where they had been living for decades before independence.

Of course, the violent nature of the land acquisitions – whereby many white farmers were either viciously assaulted or killed, having been given only a few hours to vacate their farms – resulted in a swift deterioration of relations between Mugabe and the West.

On the other hand, Mugabe’s indigenous program – which compelled foreign investors to relinquish a 51 percent stake in their companies to local Zimbabweans – did not sit too well with the Chinese.

This is because they had become the largest investors in the country – especially in the mining sector – after the souring of relations between Zimbabwe and specifically the UK and US.

The Asians were, understandably, not going to take it too kindly losing over half their profits to locals who never put in a single cent into these companies in the first place.

As if that was not bad enough, in 2016, Mugabe expelled Chinese companies mining diamonds in the Chiaadzwa/Marange areas, such as Anjin, accusing them of looting over US$15 billion in revenue.

As such, Mugabe was to soon find himself enemies of both the West and East.

Not an enviable place to be for anyone!

It, therefore, came as no surprise – at the height of a fierce internal power-struggle within the ruling ZANU PF party – that he was easily toppled in a military coup d’état that was welcome, accepted and, endorsed by every country on the planet.

That is why, soon after taking over, Mugabe’s long-time protégé Mnangagwa went about placating both the West and East by reversing all his predecessor’s notorious policies, under what he termed the ‘engagement and re-engagement policy’.

He knew very well that this was what was expected of him – since this was the main reason the international community, which usually frowns upon coups, turned a blind eye to his unconstitutional rise to power.

The ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ was intended mainly for the Chinese to let them know that their companies, specifically in mining, were now welcome back.

True to his words, Ajin was back in business not too long afterward.

Ever since, Zimbabwe has been run over by marauding Chinese mining companies that have been a law unto themselves whilst ridding roughshod over the citizenry.

They have seemingly been awarded carte blanche by Harare – wantonly displacing local communities from their ancestral lands against their will and without any meaningful compensation or development in those areas.

Similarly, the Mnangagwa administration entered into a so-called ‘Global Compensation Agreement’ with former white farmers in 2020, in which they were promised US$3.5 billion as compensation for the farms grabbed in the early 2000s.

This was clearly meant to endear Mnangagwa with the West.

He went further into inviting those former white farmers willing to return to feel free, as there was enough land for everyone – with assurances of 99-year leases.

Be that as it may, the Zimbabwe regime has repeatedly broken the US$3.5 billion compensation promise.

In addition to these mantras, Mnangagwa guaranteed ordinary Zimbabweans an ‘upper middle-income economy by 2030’.

Nevertheless, with only six years to go to this lofty goal, is this dream still realistic?

Let’s not lie to the nation and give them false hope.

According to the World Bank, and based on where our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) currently sits (at US$36 billion for 2023), the country would require a sustained average annual economic growth rate of 9 percent to achieve the desired upper middle-income economy status by 2030.

In 2023, our economic growth was 4.5 percent, and, this year, it is projected to be 3.5 percent.

Furthermore, at the moment, our GNI (Gross National Income) for 2023 stands at US$32.42 billion – translated into a per capital figure of US$2,200 – which renders us a lower middle-income economy.

It goes without saying that for us to reach the aspired GNI per capita of between US$4,046 and US$12,535 – necessary to be classified as an upper middle-income economy – it will take a phenomenal annual economic growth rate.

The current 4.5 and 3.5 percent is far below the required annual rate (of around 9 percent) to reach this dream by 2030.

In other words, this is no longer a realistic target.

These are the truths we need to tell the people.

Mnangagwa is undeniably attempting to portray himself as a man of action who seeks to please everyone with his promises.

He wants to be a ‘friend to all and an enemy to none’.

However, he has done a terrible job – as his promises have either not been fulfilled or unlikely to be met.

In fact, there is a real danger of worsening the situation, particularly for those who really matter… the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer.  Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

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