We are continuing with our analysis of the top five manifestos this week.Last week, we focussed on some general traits, but also considered on overall ranking. We left off with the MDC -T being ranked fifth on my manifesto list.
By Paul Kaseke
Number 4 : Zanu PF “The Voice of the People is the Voice of God”.
The theme and focus of the manifesto is “unite, fight corruption, develop, re-engage and create jobs”. There are some who might argue that it is not a catchy theme, but that is immaterial to the substance of its manifesto. It is quite a detailed policy, but as previously highlighted, the focus on the President should have been reduced. One of my Twitter followers remarked that this manifesto almost seemed like a biography of the President instead of a manifesto. It should have been more on policy than the personality, as we move away from the cultic politics that has plagued our country for decades.
There are very few original or new ideas in this manifesto and a great deal of it is built on previous manifestos and policies such as ZimAsset . There was a fatal failure to research and consult, which is evident from the mistakes that will be discussed towards the end
The party intends on transforming Zimbabwe into a “middle-income economy” by 2030 (a term not defined in the manifesto). It also pledges to fulfil aspirations of the people and plans to provide security of tenure, undertake resizing of land, eliminate multiple farm ownership, support infrastructure for modern vending stalls, incentivise the shift from the informal sector to the formal sector, skills development and access to finance for projects. The party states that it has three guiding principles for their manifesto, but they have five.
In terms of job creation, the party intends to make it easier and cheaper to do business and stimulate the economy to ensure that jobs are created. As far as agriculture and land are concerned, the party’s position is that the land reform programme is not reversible, and compensation will be as per the constitutional provisions. The party’s idea of security of tenure for land is to issue 99-year leases and A1 permits. They also intended to capacitate the Zimbabwe Land Commission and give free inputs for the next five years in terms of the Presidential Input Support Scheme for vulnerable families.
As for the big money question — the party intends on resolving the cash shortages by having a gold backed bank, not introducing the local currency until stability has been achieved, stimulating production, using non-cash-based payment methods (plastic money and mobile money) and promoting the use of other currencies outside the USD. The party also intends to promote “efficient circulation of cash through the banking system” and focus on international re-engagement to solve the liquidity crisis. With respect, government has tried some of these proposals and yet the problem has not been resolved. In short, Zimbabweans should not expect the crisis to be resolved immediately in terms of this manifesto.
Zanu PF promises a revamp of the National Railways of Zimbabwe and our border posts, dualisation of roads and rural electrification projects. In addition to this, the party promises to build 2 000 schools by 2023 which translates to 400 schools a year, give further support for technical education, increase in vocational training centres and furtherance of the STEM curriculum. In relation to small businesses, the party promises tax reforms, SME banks and less tax for those in the informal sector amongst other things.
I must commend the thrust on financial inclusion initiatives outlined in the manifesto. Zimbabwe still lags significantly in this respect. Some of the intended initiatives include a thrust geared towards financial products that are relevant and accessible to people in various parts of the country, credit unions, credit co-operatives and financial literacy programs.
In terms of ICT, the party envisages an e-health strategy which would, if implemented properly, revamp the health sector in general. The party will also have a National Data Recovery Centre and provide optic fibre for all government ministries which would in turn result in a more digitalised and modernised bureaucracy. This is an overdue initiative that should be welcomed.
Healthwise, the party intends on dedicating 15% of the national budget to the sector, a revamp of the public healthcare system the creation of new centres, revamp of the pharmaceutical industry to increase availability of drugs locally, fund specialised training of doctors overseas to ensure specialised treatment is available locally and the introduction of a universal health coverage plan. In respect of women, the party intends on opening a Women’s Bank (which has already been implemented), gender equality in political and socio-economic spheres and with legislative reforms that will ensure that they can own land and mining rights independently of their spouses. The party promises 50:50 representation in decision making positions (this is already mandated in the Constitution however).
For the youth, Zanu promises business mentorship programs, business hubs, quotas in allocation of land while people with disabilities can expect legislative reforms that will ensure that public buildings will be accessible.
Perhaps more controversially, the party promises 1,5 million houses in the next five years, which translates to 300 000 houses being built annually.
Overall, there are some commendable aspects of this manifesto and these include: a concerted effort to revamp the pharmaceutical sector, funding the training of specialists abroad, the formulation of an e-health strategy, optic fibre for all government departments, reforms that will see women owning property independently of spouses, financial inclusion plans and a commitment to strengthening the office of the Auditor General to independently carry out the function the office is tasked with.
There are, however, several problems with this manifesto.
1. It contains several promises, but very little detail on how these promises will materialise. The devil is always in the detail.
2. It continues with the unhealthy fascination and obsession with internal party politics in a national manifesto — bad move! There was, in my opinion, no need to discuss the “G-40 cabal” debacle, as that is not a national concern.
3. The party distances itself from the previous administration, yet goes on to claim the successes achieved under the previous administration, which leaves one confused as to the true identity of the party. As the governing party, it should have taken ownership of the mistakes collectively made since taking over, but instead found it convenient to attack the MDC and the G-40 in their manifesto.
4. It contains several failed policies that have been repeated with no indication of a shift.
5. It contains a few dishonest comments and statements like the claim on the present government having acted on corruption. There is no evidence to suggest that the government has done anything in this respect.
6. The land question is not adequately resolved. Effectively in terms of the manifesto, people will be tenants and not owners of the land. The 99-year-lease agreements are in my view, a bad move.
7. The manifesto expresses no intention to amend repressive legislation like Posa and Aippa. With respect, in the absence of the repeal of these laws, there is no new dispensation to talk of.
8. Lastly, some promises are just plainly unreasonable and impractical. Take for example the 1,5 million houses to be built by 2023 or the promise to build 2 000 schools within the same time. This is also true for the claim that the economy will grow at 6% per annum from 2018.
9. The manifesto lacks immediate and workable solutions to immediate problems like the cash crisis. This is a pressing matter, yet there are no new solutions proposed to solve this. Like the MDC-T, the failure to have a tangible immediate plan for this problem weighs heavily against them. While there is a lot of detail in terms of dreams and aspirations of the party, there is little substance to how they will achieve most of their promises if re-elected. For that and other reasons above, Zanu-PF earns itself a comfortable 4th position in my ranking.
Watch out for the next edition, as we dissect the printed promises of our politicians, it could sway your vote … just saying!
Paul Kaseke is a legal adviser, commentator, analyst and former law lecturer with the Wits Law School & Pearson Institute of Higher Education (formerly Midrand Graduate Institute). He serves as director and current group chair of AfriConsult Firm. He writes in his personal capacity. You can give him feedback via email: email@example.com or follow him on twitter @paulkasekesnr