Vusumuzi Dube recently in Dakar, Senegal
SEATED in the front row, flanked by other African leaders, his now trademark scarf resting on his shoulders, signifying the weight that is his country that he always carries on his shoulder, even when he is far from home.
While the scarf might be feather-light, the weight of leadership is far heavier than an albatross, but it is a burden that President Mnangagwa relishes and indeed, looks forward to carrying every living hour.
As events unfolded, he followed proceedings attentively, his demeanor not too dissimilar to that of tennis fans as they watched events unfold at France’s famed Roland Garros.
However, this was not the tennis world’s greatest clay court event, but the Dakar 2 Feed Africa Summit, held in Dakar, Senegal, from Wednesday until Friday.
With some presentations done in French, President Mnangagwa would occasionally grab the headset next to him to listen to the English translator.
This was clearly a man on a mission, a man out to fully represent his people.
Tick, tock, tick, tock . . . the seconds inched closer for Zimbabwe’s trusted statesman to take to the podium to address the continent.
Eventually, the programme facilitator requested the first batch of Africa Heads of State to take to the podium.
However, the facilitator had one ace up his sleeves.
“Honourable Presidents, we want you to speak from the heart, no written statements, tell us in three minutes of your success stories in your nations.”
Normally, when Presidents make key presentations, teams behind the scenes put maximum effort in preparing for even the smallest of speeches.
For some Heads of State, the facilitator’s sudden request was a joker in the pack they did not anticipate, for President Mnangagwa the sudden twist did not mean much because he indeed was a man on a mission.
Without a note or tablet, President Mnangagwa spoke for three minutes and six seconds. His speech was indeed a speech from the heart, a speech surely from a true leader.
Not at once did he stutter, eloquently pointing out how his nation has managed to develop the agriculture sector and revolutionise it in a short space of time.
And, no it was not a speech littered with complicated jargon and technical language. Instead, the President chose to go back to basics and talk about the importance of village wisdom in the construction of Zimbabwe.
There at the podium was indeed a man with love for his nation, an Eloquent Developer.
Unknown to many, this was going to be the highlight of the day because right up to the last day the Zimbabwean delegation was the most popular as other African leaders kept on referring to its success story, with a host expressing interest to travel to the country to see for themselves how the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa has managed to turn around the sector, a development which will soon see the nation regain its status as the bread basket of Africa.
President Mnangagwa said village philosophy entails that a country must be ruled and developed by the people of that country.
“In Zimbabwe we had the problem of food insecurity and we said, how much food do we want in a year to feed our nation and the figure we got was two million metric tonnes of grain. So we said, because there is climate change, how many hectares of land can we put under irrigation to produce two million-plus metric tonnes to feed the nation and we determined how much yield does a hectare have hence we knew the figures and we did that and we are now food secure.
“Secondly, we have been importing our wheat from Ukraine and fertiliser from Russia, now that side is problematic. We thus decided to say we need about 240 000 metric tonnes of wheat, so how much hectares do we need under irrigation to grow wheat and we calculated and put that number under wheat and we are now wheat sufficient and we believe next season we will be able to export wheat,” said the President.
This is the President who under his leadership the country managed to harvest the largest wheat yield in 56 years last year.
So buoyant was President Mnangagwa that he declared that this year the country will actually be exporting wheat.
Zimbabwe ambassador to Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and The Gambia, Mr James Maridadi, revealed after the summit that already three nations under his jurisdiction had already approached him expressing interest to visit Zimbabwe, to witness first-hand the success story — that is how eloquent the President was.
As the summit came to a close yesterday, the event organisers — the African Development Bank — were smiling as the Zimbabwean story, as ably presented by President Mnangagwa, helped them achieve their objectives.
In his opening remarks, President Macky Sally of Senegal had emphasised the need for political commitment to achieve food sovereignty in the continent and what better example than that which has been set by Zimbabwe.
The President travelled to the summit with the Minister of Lands, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Frederick Shava.
The three-day summit was held under the theme; “Feeding Africa: Food Security and Resilience”.
Article Source: The Chronicle