JOHANNESBURG – Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa has given a ringing endorsement of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, saying he believes the Zanu PF leader who won a disputed election in July is “sincere”.
Masiyiwa also called for sanctions imposed by the United States to be removed, saying they were not justified.
The 57-year-old telecoms tycoon’s unusually forthright comments about Zimbabwean politics were made in a TV interview with CNBC Africa recorded October 26 in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Masiyiwa, whose company Econet is the largest telecoms firm in Zimbabwe now with a diversified portfolio, said he was determined to maintain his investments in Zimbabwe.
“I’m committed to investing in Zimbabwe as I have always been, come rain or shine,” he said.
“Concerning the change that has taken place, I believe it is real, I believe President Mnangagwa is sincere in the things he wants to do. It’s going to be extremely challenging, everybody knows that. Anyone who understands economics knows it’s going to be tough governing. But I think that Zimbabwe needs to be given a chance, we’ve got to stop the politicking and focus on rebuilding this country. I’m right up there.”
On October 28, Masiyiwa’s wife, Tsitsi, sparked internet rumours that the mogul may be joining Mnangagwa’s government in some capacity.
Writing on Twitter, Tsitsi said: “I read about in Genesis the story of Joseph the young Israelite’s appointment as prime minister of Egypt by Pharaoh. Wow! Incredible. Found myself asking, ‘Can you be called upon by your pharaoh to serve in your Egypt to prevent calamity?’”
Twitter users took the comment to suggest that Mnangagwa, who toppled former President Robert Mugabe in a military coup last November, had reached out to Masiyiwa.
Some even issued advice to the businessman, warning that he risked being used by Zanu PF to survive the current economic collapse before being discarded.
“Just a warning, Pharaoh can easily abuse. Just read where it says Pharaoh forgot all Joseph’s contributions and placed the children of Israel under hard bondage and slavery. Pharaoh just wants to survive the famine,” said @drmakhuza in reply.
Despite repeated calls for Masiyiwa to enter the political ring, the tycoon has used every opportunity to dampen talk of a run for political office.
Masiyiwa said sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States had paralysed the country, whose prospects of coming out of the economic crisis were dim for the same reason.
“I think for instance that the sanctions should be removed, there’s no justification for them anymore. They should be removed. I’ve always been on record to say the sanctions are not justified and now we’re almost 20 years into the sanctions. You can’t have one country operate with its hands tied behind its back,” he said.
The United States maintains that the sanctions, which have been revised a few times, were put in place to force Zimbabwe to meet its obligations of respecting human rights, good governance, free and fair elections and aligning laws with a new constitution adopted in 2013. – ZimLive