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Anger at Mnangagwa over CEOs snub

by Staff reporter
17 Feb 2019 at 16:10hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday cancelled his planned trip to attend the CEO Africa Roundtable in Victoria Falls, amid a worsening economic crisis stirring resentment to his rule.

He cited a meeting with diplomats held in Harare on Thursday as the reason and also attributed the cancellation to the ongoing formation of a Presidential Advisory Council formed to help him in formulating key economic policies and strategies that advance his so-called Vision 2030.

The council comprises leaders of a variety of major Zimbabwean corporations, entrepreneurs, business executives, intellectuals and church leaders.

Asked why the president did not pitch up for the invitation-only annual business meeting, Mnangagwa's spokesperson George Charamba told the Daily News: "For the simple reason that he had a fixture with diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe yesterday, and also because his Advisory Council is convening pretty soon to, among other issues, work on a framework for the next indaba with business. He may have missed a fixture, he has not spurned a constituency."

The usual caravan of business leaders, ministers, parliamentarians, academics and journalists had trekked into the resort town for their annual February get-together, but the man everyone was talking about was 707km away, officially opening the 12th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium 2019 organised by the Research Council of Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa was supposed to be the "Guest of Honour", billed to make a presentation on the closing day of the forum, which ran under the theme "From talk to unified action: Towards a more responsible and inclusive national economy."

One CEO told the Daily News of Mnangagwa's snub: "It feels like Hamlet without the prince." That, bluntly, is how the CEO Africa Roundtable feels this year, he said.

Mnangagwa and his Finance minister Mthuli Ncube are dominating proceedings. A survey of business executives conducted showed that companies are worried by Mnangagwa's austerity measures and currency rhetoric.

In Mnangagwa's absence, it has been left to senior members of his administration - the Speaker Jacob Mudenda, and Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology minister Amon Murwira - to fly his administration's flag.

Predictably, the concerns are strongest in the business community given the slowing economic growth blamed on Mnangagwa's economic stewardship.

There is talk here of the need to ensure that currency reforms work for everyone.

One CEO said he had hoped the new president's reign would mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings.

There is also a sense that Mnangagwa is not effectively leading the country on economic issues, amid indications he and the business community have become distant and now have a strained relationship.

Mnangagwa attended the forum last year where his neck tie was auctioned off for a staggering

$15 000. After letting go of the tie, which he came putting on from Harare, Mnangagwa was offered an American flag-designed replacement, which he put on immediately.

Oswell Bimha, the CEO Africa Roundtable chairperson, told the Daily News the forum was at fault in Mnangagwa's no-show.

"Look, when you invite the president, traditionally we have just written directly to his office and we have had to host him, but this time around we have been told we were supposed to follow a certain pattern which we accept we should have followed," Bimha said.

"He is our number one CEO. There is an acknowledgement around the table that we have not followed the right protocol but we still are going to, after this, go back to our president because it does not make the outcome of this conference less important.

"We still need to engage him out of the collective that we would have come up with. So, next year, we will do the right thing, we will do the correct processes.

"We want to assure the president whatever bungling up of the process, it is not disrespect. We are not all part of the protocol processes done within these circles but certainly we expect him to be with us next year."

Asked if the president had sent apologies, Bimha said: "We have failed to do the procedure."

Asked to outline the procedure, he said: "The procedure is that we are supposed to write to our parent minister, our parent minister then requests the president or through whatever channels at the president's office.

So, we did write directly to them, and writing directly to them, we did write on time and we are still wanting to be educated on how else we could have done it so that we could be educated on the process but also getting the president to create time on his busy schedule to come''.

Bimha also said there was also a scheduling conflict.

"There are also critical issues that are happening within the president's diary at this time which have coincided with this, so there is a combination of issues. And sadly, on behalf of the roundtable, we are very saddened that we couldn't have him this time around."

Asked what will happen to the forum's economic reform lobby document, "Call to action", Bimha said: "Very, very, urgently, our Call to Action document is part of our package to him. This Call to Action document is going to be value-added. Being value-added means the contributions that have come up of this are actually going to be put in the priorities that the members have."

Source - dailynews

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