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Zanu PF concluded its annual conference at the weekend where the state of the economy and corruption within government were some of the issues topping the agenda.

The conference ran under the theme “Mechanise, modernise and grow the economy towards vision 2030”.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is facing a myriad of socio-economic problems which include rising inflation, unemployment, investor fatigue and a restless civil service.

An underperforming economy remains the elephant in the living room. During the election campaign trail, Mnangagwa promised to transform the economy, build energy plants, create unemployment and strengthen the pillars of governance.

On a scale of 10, we would argue that overall the government has achieved three out of 10.

During the year 2019, Zimbabwe implemented a raft of reforms in its quest to contain government expenditure and normalise relations with international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank.

Literature shows that pursuing such a path comes at a price—social spending suffers and populist policies are jettisoned. For a party that promised milk and honey before the June 2018 general elections, Zanu PF finds itself in an insidious situation that may affect the core of the party.

The state of the economy is however secondary to the optics of the opposition party MDC led by Nelson Chamisa, which challenges Mnangagwa’s legitimacy. This has been a source of a major political impasse that has had socio-economic ramifications.

Interestingly during the conference, the Chinese government weighed its support on the ruling party. Put differently, the world’s second largest economy boldly stated that its interests are safeguarded under Zanu PF.

So the question is “Where does that put the MDC?” The opposition party needs more friends than foes now—China included.

Zimbabwe’s politics has been highly toxic. It’s a winner takes all game. The ruling party enjoys more than two thirds majority and has made it clear that any talks that could push for a coalition government with the opposition party are not welcome. Many Zimbabweans who voted for both Zanu PF and MDC Alliance may not agree with this hawkish approach.

An era of sloganeering has taken Zimbabwe backwards. Intolerance has not been a common word in Zimbabwe and national interest has been defined along partisan lines.

As the ruling party approaches the half way mark since the 2018 elections, party leaders should reflect on the manifesto, park egos and renew hope to millions of Zimbabweans.

The Second Republic that many hoped would carry this responsibility has largely been unsatisfactory. Is Zimbabwe facing a leadership crisis? History or probably the future will and can tell.

Published in econometer