LAST week’s column looked at the Zanu-PF manifesto which I ranked 4th. This week we examine a third manifesto.
By Paul Kaseke
Number 3: Build Zimbabwe Alliance
Build Zimbabwe’s manifesto is under the slogan ‘Run with BZA’
The manifesto is simple yet sound in several respects. The party has an easy to follow 10-point plan that defines its election campaign and these are: to radically cut non-productive public spending, to promote and defend constitutional rights, to devolve the presidency, restoring investor confidence, building a dynamic new economy from “bottom up and inside out”, radical business recovery and development plans for each province, integrated rural development and agriculture recovery plan, infrastructure recovery and development plan and introducing a culture of service. The catch point for me was what the party termed “common-sense public policy and sound financial management”.
The party intends to reduce non-productive spending by reducing the size of Cabinet to 15 posts, removing the redundant deputy minister posts (a personal favourite of mine), removing the second vice president post and reducing the bloated legislature to 150. The party further adds an accountability tool making it difficult for the President to create new ministries without the approval of Parliament. To modernise the State, BZA intends on creating the office of chief technology officer (CTO) who will report to the President and each government department will have a dedicated technology officer who reports to the CTO and will oversee modernisation processes.
The party sets out a heavily loaded legislative agenda as it intends to repeal Posa, Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act. The party further intends to create a Civil Rights’ Division in the Attorney General’s Office which will uphold the rights of citizens and litigate on their behalf. The appointment process of the Registrar-General and the chair of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will be changed to close loopholes open to abuse.
In terms of a “devolved presidency”, the party will ensure that the President spends a week working in a specific province per month. The aim, it seems to me, is to get the President to engage the country, province by province and be accessible to the general public, business communities etc while doing this. The party intends to pass legislation to ensure the President does not use the working visits for partisan purposes. I don’t think an entire law needs to be created for this however.
As far as the land question is concerned, the party intends to amend the Constitution and in particular s72 because the party views the land reform clause as having wording that is “open-ended and racially skewed” and that this should no longer be the case after 38 years of independence. The party will engage with international partners to accelerate the compensation process for Zimbabweans with legitimate claims for restitution for losses suffered because of the Land Acquisition Act, the Indigenization Act and “other associated acts deemed unlawful by the courts”.
The party will formalise small scale mining, introduce electives in high school to equip the youth for careers in the creative arts, incorporate the informal sector into mainstream supply chains, use presidential advisory councils to get quality policies on business and infrastructure development plans and push for solar energy campaigns for schools in the rural areas. The party will also build three new power stations, build 10 district hospitals in every province and upgrade airports to international standards. BZA will amend the Constitution to provide for the appointment of more technocrats into Cabinet and although it is of the view that ministers who are part of the legislature pose a threat to the concept of accountability and separation of powers, it proffers no solution of resolving this.
While there are several positives in this manifesto such as the solar campaign for schools, reduced and more accountable Cabinet, accessible leadership, repeal of oppressive legislation and the creation of a division to uphold the rights of citizens in the Attorney General’s there are quite several concerns that I had with it .
The bulk of the plans above depend on receiving legislative support for the intended amendments and enactments. Without the support of parliament most of the promises above will not materialise.
I am uneasy about the number of proposed amendments to the Constitution. BZA impliedly will have to amend s72, 104, 138 and 238 of the Constitution among other provisions. While some of their reasons might be valid, I think like most of the other parties, they should work their way around the Constitution that is in place without a cocktail of amendments.
I am unable to agree with the way BZA intends to resolve the land question. The first mistake in my view, is to try and divorce the race issue from land reform as the two are inextricably linked. The different land acts that resulted in blacks losing the land were based on race and to remedy this, one would inadvertently have to engage the race question yet again.
In principle, yes, the land reform was and is necessary to correct past injustices but its implementation was chaotic and that needs to be corrected. Historically, one of the biggest factors leading to the struggle for liberation was the land and it will unfortunately, continually be an issue until adequately addressed. In my view, BZA makes a fatal mistake by seeking to amend s72. The underlying principle of land reform is corrective/restorative justice. I understand and agree that land reform must not be from a retributive or punitive sense and safeguards should exist to prevent same but land reform must as a matter of principle, take place. The land question is inherently racial and sensitive, but it is about restoring dignity since in our society as with most African societies, land is a symbol of power, status and wealth. Colonisation deprived blacks of that status and thus, their dignity. Land reform will always be a racially skewed process and so will any type of affirmative action. I agree with the land audits suggested but the “racially skewed nature” of land reform cannot be avoided.
I was unable to find BZA’s suggested immediate solution to the liquidity crisis from the manifesto The same can be said about health. The 10-point plan does not dwell on the health aspect and if it does, it points it out as an existing problem yet no roadmap is given. There is also no mention of how the party intends to address issues facing people living with disabilities, war veterans and vulnerable members of our society.
Disappointingly, not much is said about education save for the fact that the party intends to depoliticise leadership of higher learning institutions and intends to establish entrepreneurial training in colleges. This is a major sector requiring attention and the fact that it was not dealt with as such is worrying. One, therefore, is unaware of how BAZ intends to support the education sector or what portion of the budget it would allocate to it.
The concept of devolution was lost on the party. They focussed on the presidency being devolved which is not a bad thing, but the Constitution requires devolution of power from national government to local government where appropriate and not the presidency per se. BAZ did not engage with this specifically, yet it is a constitutional imperative. They would be better off implementing the Constitution before amending it.
There is no mention of how to deal with the security sector which has been identified as an area in need of reform by parties across the board (with the exception of Zanu PF of course).
Overall, this a relatively good manifesto but the lack of detail on aspects of education, health and the cash crisis were in my books, great upsets. Without these important aspects, the manifesto seems more like a strategic plan for a company… 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @paulkasekesnr