Parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on Thursday gathered at the Harare International Conference Centre to launch the Mid-Term Plan (MTP), an economic blueprint expected to direct government’s planning in the next five years.
A convivial atmosphere exuded from the occasion as representatives from the three political parties to the GPA all appeared to sing from the same hymn sheet on the need to get the economy back to its feet.
This geniality is the usual tonic required to ensure policies are implemented and social progress is realised. But it is too early to forecast progress.
The cordial relationship exhibited at the HICC on Thursday belies fundamental differences that still exist among parties to the GPA.
The MTP, like many other economic policies in the past, will always be victim to poor politics that has become the hallmark of governance in this country.
We have, at the moment, a deeply divided government that is constantly squabbling instead of finding solutions to a myriad of problems bedeviling this economy.
Lately, senior government officials have been bickering over purported increments to civil service salaries.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said the issue is yet to be debated in Cabinet and therefore figures being bandied about are a nullity. Presidential spokesman George Charamba immediately shot back; telling Tsvangirai that he had lost touch with government programmes.
A government that fails to speak with one voice on fundamental policy issues cannot be trusted to implement an economic plan.
The current disjointed state of the GNU is a clear and present danger to the MTP, not withstanding assurances from senior government officials at the launch of the blueprint that there was wide consultation in the formulation of the plan.
This widespread consultation should translate into ownership of the plan by all parties to the GPA.
Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada has stressed this point but there are pitfalls on the road ahead.
Sections dealing with indigenisation, mining policy, investment promotion and agriculture for example, are contested territories.
Zanu PF and the MDCs have differed sharply on these issues. That the MTP document contains seemingly cogent measures on the contentious issues is no guarantee that the implementation would be strife-free.
Political considerations, based on party ideology, usually supersedes prudent planning and implementation, resulting in monumental mistakes.
This is usually the order of the day ahead of elections.
Zimbabwe has, over the years, lost an opportunity to create a virtuous cycle of human progress and growth based on following clear policy guidelines because of political instability.
The MTP recognises the need for stability and good governance as key ingredients to achieving growth. These areas require attention for the MTP to work.
The nation is tired of hearing corrosive slogans of hate and statements labelling the MDC-T and Tsvangirai as security threats. This cannot put food on the table or deliver jobs to the millions of jobless youths.
The GNU needs to demonstrate competency and that it is the right agency to implement the MTP by making sure that all parties work towards the goal of development.
The success of the programme is not going to be measured by mere GDP figures, export receipts or a low inflation rate.
Success means jobs, affordable housing, education, health and a welfare system that takes care of the country’s most vulnerable.
Do we trust the GNU to achieve this?