ZANU PF MANIFESTO, A PIE IN THE SKY



...Can Mnangagwa and his team walk the talk


Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa(picture credit, Kampalapost.com)




FOLKS, it’s that time again where we get bombarded with the Zanu PF manifesto as political parties get ready to face off in the plebiscite expected sometime in August. Political parties will try to come up with blueprints just to outshine the other but the question that remains unanswered is whether they have the political will to execute their plans.

Looking at the Zanu PF manifesto unveiled over the weekend under the theme Unite, Fight Corruption, Re-engage, Develop and Create Jobs, there is no doubt that it does address the issues that Zimbabweans are faced with today and I must say it is brilliant! But the million dollar question is, is the manifesto worth the paper it is written on? Truth be told; Can Zanu PF which has been in power for the last 38 years of the hell Zimbabweans have been living under walk the talk? Can they be trusted to implement the provisions of their beautifully crafted manifesto? Do they have the capacity to create the jobs they are promising? Zimbabweans are still waiting on the 2,3million jobs which were promised in 2013. Do they have the political will to implement their 50/50 gender equality when they do not even have women in the presidium and positions of influence? We all know that charity begins at home right!
Can we trust these men at the helm of the country to bring about the necessary economic turnaround that citizens are praying and fasting for? Can Zanu PF honestly stand up and say that they will revive the economy which they are responsible for destroying in the first place through corruption and bad governance? Somebody wake me up, please!

Below I attempt to unpack what the theme of the manifesto means to me

Unite

I totally agree with the notion of unity at this time of our history in Zimbabwe. After 37 years of Mugabe's rule which fostered a lot of divisions not only within the ruling party but the nation as a whole is a necessity. Going forward, there needs to be unity of purpose among citizens if we are to turn around the fortunes of Zimbabwe. Mugabe's rule fostered a lot of divisions along partisan lines preventing citizens who did not support Zanu PF from benefiting from state resources. One needs only look at the distribution of agricultural inputs and of course the presidential scholarships to see that one could only benefit by being a Zanu PF member. However noble the idea of unity might be, one begins to wonder if the revolutionary party is able to deliver on this promise. How can they preach the gospel of unity so soon after the presidential advisor Chris Mutsvangwa embarrassed himself during a public debate a week ago when he said that Zanu PF was the only party in Zimbabwe and the rest were jokers. I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech but I don't think such language fosters the so-called Unity, Zanu PF is talking about. Mutsvangwa went on to say that the destinies of all Zimbabweans had already been shaped and decided by Zanu PF? Really Mr Mutsvangwa? This makes me wonder what sort of advise ED is receiving. In that panel discussion, I saw an arrogant, die-hard Zanu PF, doing a U-turn on the rationale accommodative and inclusive Mutsvangwa that spoke to the nation in the days before, during and after the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe last year. Could be a case of a leopard failing to shed its spots?

Fight Corruption

Now this one is classic! Can someone! Anybody in Zanu PF tell us how they are going to achieve this mammoth task seeing as the most corrupt persons in the country occupy prominent and strategic positions in both government and party. We all know the shenanigans of our Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu and how he attained his wealth. We all know about his shady business deals during his time as Mines Minister. The majority of Zimbabweans would love to see the bulky obedient son of disgraced Mugabe behind bars for corruption. But seeing as he is the police boss, who then will police the police?
Then there is the running saga of Supa Mandiwanzira, who seems to have become the new untouchables. Palpable evidence of corruption has been laid bare for all to see through the ongoing saga with the former Managing Director of Netone, Reward Kangai, who has laid it all bare, The Minister is fingered in many corrupt dealings, yet he still holds his portfolio of influence superintending over such strategic institutions as the ICT regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). His involvement in the suspicious intended purchase by Government of shares in Telecel remains un-investigated despite the fact that his intervention as Minister and the weird argument for government buying shares in the private company (when the government already owns Netone) remains a smoking gun. There is a perception that Zanu PF still has some sacred cows, and the fight against corruption is not based on principles but a selective application of the law. Perhaps, some say, squaring of political grievances.
I for one have not yet forgotten about the missing $15 billion diamond revenue, this could indeed be a starting point in dealing with corruption for the new dispensation. I know I want my share of that money, I don't know about you, dear reader.

Develop

“Zanu PF's vision is to transform Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by 2030. Zanu PF will focus aggressively on re-opening up the country for business with the global community as to rebuild our industries, create more jobs, eradicate the scourge of poverty and uplift people's livelihoods,” reads part of the manifesto. I think this can be done.
If there is a part that of the manifesto that would upset a lot of people, it is this one. Though well well-intended and positive, people will remember that it is the same Zanu PF that inherited a thriving economy in 1980, and went on to destroy it over 37 years through systematic asset stripping, corruption and mismanagement. It was Zanu PF that destroyed a thriving black middle class that was reaping the rewards of their huge investment in education, resulting in them leaving the country in droves to become economic refugees in foreign lands. The present levels of unemployment and poverty that this part of the manifesto seeks to change are of Zanu PF’s making.
I am not suggesting that Zanu PF will not do it, given that this is not the Mugabe regime, and they are touting this as part of the new dispensation. I am merely stating that people’s doubts are grounded in the reality of the past, and they have every reason to be sceptical. People need to be reminded of the fact that 2030 is the year for the attainment of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG. The goals cover ending poverty, hunger, clean water, quality education, economic growth, zero hunger, among others. This was meant for functioning economies with development-oriented states. For a counted whose development was arrested for so long, it is hard to believe this is possible. I don’t buy it. Maybe if the jobs promised in the last Zanu PF manifesto had been delivered, I might buy it.

Re-engagement

The president has been on a re-engagement offensive ever-since his appointment and I must say, his exploits have been impressive. I think that it is important to re-brand Zimbabwe to the world so that we can move from being a pariah state. In politics as well as economics, perceptions are everything and I wouldn't want to take that from Mnangagwa. But while I'm impressed by his diplomatic offensive, I can't say the same about his exploits back at home. Zimbabwe seems to be in the same place it was during Mugabe's era. We still do not have any money in the banks, essential social services have literally remained in a coma. Job actions by doctors, nurses and teachers still continue to haunt Zimbabwe even in this new dispensation that has been making very deliberate efforts to inform the world out there that Zimbabwe is open for business.
My question is can Zimbabwe be open when citizens cannot access clean water, health and sanitation and education? Can we honestly openly declare that the country is open for business to outsiders when it is not open to the people within its borders. I think there is something wrong there somewhere.
The manifesto also, however, states it will; “create conditions for economic independence, prosperity and equitable distribution of wealth.”

Create Jobs

In their 2013 manifesto, Zanu PF promised to create 2,3 million jobs but what we experienced was a massive cut in jobs as most companies had to shut down owing to viability issues.
I also look forward to seeing how they are going to manage to create jobs since they have very little regard for events happening around the world which in turn influence and affect Zimbabwe and its economy.
While the Zanu PF manifesto looks good on paper, the litmus test would be the economy and how they manage to turn it around. For me, we cannot be talking about the economy without taking into consideration the digital economic revolution which is upon us now. According to the United Nations division on ICTs, ITU, 70 % of the jobs which will exist in the next generation have not yet been created and will require one to have digital skills. Most of the jobs which exist today will be redundant. I would have been excited to see what plans they have to put this into consideration. Also, ICTS have made lives easier across the globe. For instance, most countries even in Africa use Artificial Intelligence to detect fraud and financial irregularities. This could definitely come in handy for a country like Zimbabwe which is trying to fight the cancer of corruption as well as create employment for our graduates. Instead, I watched how some in Zanu PF criticised MDC leader Nelson Chamisa's vision of spaghetti roads, bullet trains and airports in Murehwa. This can be done if only ICTS are embraced.

Conclusion
Manifestos mean nothing if they are not implemented. In functioning democracies, parties are elected on the basis of their pledges and manifestos, and assessed at the next election, not on their new manifestos but on how they implemented their pledges that got them elected.
If this is the basis upon which the coming elections is to be decided upon, then Zanu PF should not be judged based on the Manifesto released last week but on how they did in2013. We all know how they did, and it can be summed up by one word: DISASTROUS!
The difference this time is that Mugabe is gone, and Mnangagwa is the new face of Zanu PF. He says he is not Mugabe and is putting policies that so far do look very different from Mugabe. His mantra is that Zimbabwe is open for business.
Zanu PF has an uphill task to convince the electorate that, first, they are the changed outfit they say they are, and second, that they intend to do what they say in their manifesto. They have never in the past done what they say they will do. They have so far not done a good job to demonstrate that they are different from the outfit that got us into this mess in the first place. Why and how, do they expect us to believe that this time they can walk the talk?


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