By Paidashe Mandivengerei and Costa Nkomo
ZIMBABWEANS have expressed mixed feelings over President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s novel decision to take a live radio interview.
While initially, reports had indicated Mnangagwa would take calls from ordinary Zimbabweans, the Zanu PF leader seemed to have chickened out at the last minute and his hosts turned to cherry-picking messages from the State owned radio station’s social media pages.
A snap survey by NewZimbabwe.com on the streets of Harare found that most were not impressed by the responses the President gave on issues relating to their many concerns.
Others applauded the bold move, a major shift from former President Robert Mugabe’s secluded 37 years in power.
Mnangagwa insists he is a listening leader as promised in his inauguration speech after coming to power on the back of a military coup in November 2017.
The censoring of questions and the decision to shut out callers was picked as the major disappointment.
Others praised Mnangagwa for being democratic and interacting with citizens unlike his predecessor, Mugabe who only had prerecorded interviews with the state broadcaster.
A man who identified himself as only John told NewZimbabwe.com that the interview was unbiased although several improvements should be implemented.
“They should have used both texts and phone-ins so as to reach a greater audience, but everything was fair.
“I sent my contribution but it was not read, maybe it’s because other people sent their messages hours before me in the morning and I sent later on in the evening,” John said.
Another citizen disputed Mnangagwa’s claims that the discredited local RTGS currency was the strongest in the region.
“I hope that the President would tell us the truth because it is obvious that we have the weakest currency in the region. If we look at the RTGS on the parallel market, we see that it’s losing value almost everyday if not every hour, we cannot call such a currency the strongest,” he said.
Another citizen pointed out that the organisers of the interview had gone out of the way to protect Mnangagwa from possible public backlash.
“Obviously messages which seem to put the government in bad light were not read and that is why they used that method (messages). It’s impossible to say no message enquired about the externalised funds which the president has since kept quiet about,” NewZimbabwe.com heard.
Mnangagwa issued a threat to those that he claimed had stashed millions out of the country.
Later the President was to claim some $800 million had been repatriated back into the country but there has not been an indication any such money has been added to the local economy.