Watch: Mnangagwa urges nation to prepare for austerity

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NEW YORK – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said Zimbabweans must prepare for austerity measures that may appear harsh but are in the medium to long-term designed to set the economy back on track.

Zimbabwe’s leader also said he was in the process of replicating a Commonwealth system in which the main opposition received formal recognition, as part of his measures to strengthen democracy in Zimbabwe.

He made these remarks in an interview with Bloomberg TV here yesterday.

President Mnangagwa is in New York for the 73rd Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, during which he is engaging international business and political leaders as part of his drive to revive Zimbabwe’s economy and re-integrate it into the comity of nations.

Asked about Zimbabwe’s economic fundamentals and where he saw the economy going, President Mnangagwa told Bloomberg TV that it was a time for sobriety.

“We have to be very sober. It is true that our fiscal balance is bad and we must be honest to our people as to what we want to achieve and to do.

“So there is need for us to apply fundamentals that may be harsh to our people, but are necessary for us to cross the bridge.”

He said Zimbabweans and the world should judge his administration on the work it was doing and not on prior perceptions of the country, adding that all investors were welcome.

The President said as part of his engagement and re-engagement drive, he was opening up the economy via legislative reforms, and he would be meeting Belgium’s Prime Minister, Mr Charles Michel, during his visit here to further this agenda.

Belgium is the seat of the European Union, which for two decades was hostile to Zimbabwe but has since President Mnangagwa’s ascension been warming up to the country.

On internal politics, Zimbabwe’s Head of State and Government indicated there would be some form of official recognition of the main opposition in Parliament.

This follows failed attempts by the opposition MDC Alliance to delegitimise President Mnangagwa’s July 30 electoral victory.

Asked if President Mnangagwa would formally recognise the opposition, he said:

“It is (common) worldwide that if a party loses elections, not everybody accepts losing gracefully. But this happens and I do not think it is new in Zimbabwe.

“Under our Commonwealth Parliamentary Democracy, the opposition is recognised, you recognise the leader of the opposition in Parliament.

“Under the former administration there was no formal recognition of the opposition leader, but now under my administration we are embracing the Commonwealth approach to parliamentary democracy where you recognise the leader of the opposition and he is given certain recognition and perks in Parliament.”

In Britain, for instance, the leader of the opposition in Parliament has a formal role, leading a shadow cabinet in a system that ensures greater oversight of government and proffers alternative policies.

In the UK, the present Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) is entitled to a salary. President Mnangagwa said he would continue to promote national unity, peace and democracy. *See Comment on Page 4