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Unrealistic expectations of the president's austerity measures

02 Sep 2019 at 07:24hrs | Views
Whether President Mnangagwa visits members of the opposition or takes them out to dinner or pays them visits in hospitals, he needs their support in order to achieve major parts of his agenda.

That presidents are at the mercy of economy, this is a stubborn fact in any African state. The popularity of the president is determined by the bread and butter issues. But it's a truism that often gets overlooked in the rush to assume that what a president wants, a president can get. "We are made to believe that presidents are the centre of government, and great presidents can make things happen," it's a myth."

President Mnangagwa came in on a very high horse placed under him by the people. In the process he has made mistakes, and, naturally, many Zimbabweans think that his policies on issues such as tax rates and monetary policies and health care are wrong to begin with. However, some of his perceived failings may be the result of an inflated expectations game that the long suffering Zimbabweans endured for decades. Mnangagwa had managed to do things which most African presidents have failed to achieve in hundred years not days. He managed to fly a white flag of reconciliation; he managed to show that we can be of opposing parties but of the same nation. he managed to maintain peace even with those whom he could have assisted to their graves. Such achievement is beyond mere human nature.

The economy has been the greatest challenge; the country has bled under mismanagement and serious corruption. it is a bit encouraging that ZAAC is showing its teeth. One wonders whether the justice system was sabotaging the president or it needed cleansing itself. The manner in which criminal cases are handled is pathetic and the opposition is having a field day defending the accused which is making the war against corruption a joke. This failure to come up with a strong case against the known corrupt ministers, and partisan prosecutions has become a big nasty dent in the first two years. Expectations tend to be wildly unrealistic, "Presidents can be important, but their scope for solving problems that are the source of substantial disagreement [is] exceedingly limited within our constitutional system.

Given the constraints of government's austerity measures and the current polarized landscape, it is doubtful that government will be able to accomplish anything. Within the cabinet there are people who are kin to see it fail. Still, president Mnangagwa has always played his cards well, because he did not promise more than he can deliver and then attempt to lay the blame elsewhere, typically of politicians he warned from the beginning that austerity simply means austerity. He opened up and requested any idea which will be helpful to the nation. His policy is for the best interest of the nation.  The success should not be measured on the stomach but on the plans for the stomach.

Successful leaders control the political definition of their actions. Presidents can dominate and define their eras. the era which we are now in cannot be measured by quick joy.  They are just but a foundation of the coming good times. The modern presidency is in fact that notion that the president is in some sense front and centre.

But in order to achieve great things, a president has to bend few rules and the country to his will. It is only then that he could be in control.

"It's tough governing. It's especially tough now, given the differences between the parties. When the opposition is only there to oppose and not to alleviate the nation it is difficult to steer the country to success. In addition, the public has become more polarized. As with other recent president Mnangagwa is disliked and distrusted by roughly half the public, but for a progressive nation he needs to be given a chance.

If you're looking at half the population that disagrees with you already, it's not like the president can put pressure on people by making people agree with him. "If a president once had real potential to influence the public through speeches that really isn't possible anymore, people are now looking at what has been done.

There's some research to suggest that presidents who talk optimistically about the economy can help boost consumer confidence, But even if a president can convince the nation. That his economic ideas are the way to go; he'll still have a limited ability to shape the economy. A president is only one part of a government that controls only some aspects of the economy. The political branches set fiscal policy (tax and spending rates), yet have limited influence over what the general economy does.

All of these governmental actors in total may help set conditions, but they can't make a market economy boom on their own — especially in an era of global finance. While presidential fortunes may rise and fall with the economy, expectations that a president can create jobs or make the economy grow are generally overblown.

"That expectation, that presidents have the wherewithal to manage the economy, has led the economy to control any number of presidents, the economy goes down, and we blame presidents. It sets presidents up for failure. The blame is totally misplaced but it remains there.

President Mnangagwa can nod with recognition when reminded of Abraham Lincoln's words from 1864: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

For certain, the president has the same set of powers granted to him by the Constitution to make appointments and veto legislation. How they combine those enunciated powers with less formal ones, such as their command of the bully pulpit, in order to respond to the events of their time is what separates the great ones from the mediocre.

It's impossible to judge presidential success in midterm.  Many presidents regarded as failures still managed to achieve some real victories.

Zimbabweans have the potential to shake the country from the dust of poverty. We can work together with the president to come out of the problems facing us now. Many people are saying the president must put his weight and mean it, on fight against corruption. If the prosecution is so weak that it cannot challenge the corrupt then it must be overhauled.

The expectations placed on the president are real but not realistically achievable in few days. The talk is not as long as the walk. The system needs new wheels and that is the downside to the president.

That might be the perverse upside to the expectations game. Hoping for so much from the State House, Zimbabweans tend to denigrate presidents who disappoint — a mood swing that keeps our awe of the office in check. We use these people and we throw them out it's a good thing, that as a Democratic people we are impatient, but we need to be realistic in our expectations.

The pains we are having now are just the birth pains. They will all come to an abrupt end.  Zimbabwe will be better soon we all need to hang on hold on and we got to fight. We are in a war we have to fight to prosperity.

VAZET2000@YAHOO.CO.UK

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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