By Robert Tapfumaneyi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has put his head on the block and declared the projects his government has approved will create 780 000 jobs in the next two years.
Mnangagwa was speaking in an interview with State television ahead of the country’s 39th Independence celebrations.
In what effectively turned into a State of the Nation Address, Mnangagwa said his foreign policy under the mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” to re-engage the world after years of isolation under former President Robert Mugabe, is bearing fruit.
“I am happy however that here has been a positive and reasonable response worldwide especially in the area of mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism,” Mnangagwa said.
The President said most of the projects approved are at various stages of implementation.
“We have created One Stop Shop Investment Service Centre which will be launched very soon.
“Under that one, we have approved 59 projects and these projects are at different levels of implementation in Zimbabwe. As a result of this, if all those 59 projects we have approved get implemented in the course of the next two years or so,I believe we will be able to create in the region of 780 000 jobs by those approved projects alone,” said Mnangagwa.
Critics argue that while Mnangagwa is making the right noises there has been little from his administration in terms of implementing the reforms demanded by the international community.
At home Mnangagwa’s “mega deals” with mostly Asian and East European countries have been met with scorn.
Unemployment remains high but Mnangagwa argued in the interview that Zimbabwe needed to change its educational thrust.
“But again I have meetings with institutions of higher learning and captains of industry. We want to make sure our institutions of higher learning do not just churn out graduates, we have graduates with PHD who do not know how to make potato chips,” he said.
“So it is necessary that we have graduates coming out of these institutions who relate and can be absorbed into the industry and commerce.
“So our curriculum must also change in that regard, so that we do not only produce people who look for employment, we must also produce persons who when they leave colleges are able to start businesses and create products this is what we are doing.”
On his assumption of power in 2017 following the coup that deposed former President Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa said his mantra would be “job, jobs, and more jobs”.
He promised that his government would concentrate on economic recovery and little energy on politics.
However, since the elections last year, indications are that Mnangagwa has already begun to prepare for elections in 2023 with Zanu PF structures having already endorsed him as presidential candidate only months after another election.
The opposition has not been left out, with some MDC structures having already declared party leader Nelson Chamisa as their preferred candidate pushing the country into election mode.
Both Chamisa and Mnangagwa have been holding rallies meeting supporters across the country.
Very few if any jobs have been created since Mnangagwa took power and the country continues to struggle with social, economic and political problems especially the legitimacy question around the Zanu PF leader’s administration given the controversy around his election last year.
In 2013 then President Mugabe’s Zanu PF promised to create two million jobs to no avail instead more workers were laid off especially after the 2015 Supreme Court judgement that gave employers power to terminate contracts on three months notice.