Zimbabwe needs political consensus after August 23

What this demonstrates is there is an overall consensus in Zimbabwe that these two major political parties, as well as the other smaller parties, should work together as far as possible to develop a united development approach to the country. 

The Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) August 23 to 24 election results showed that Zanu PF won 52.6% of the votes for the presidency, whereas the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) won 44.4%.   Almost half each.

  It demonstrated a Zec concern to work out results as professionally as possible.  

There was a difference of only 300 000 votes between the two candidates, with little indication so far that there were large scale inaccuracies.

  In the past there were huge suspicions that Zec favoured the ruling government, Zanu PF, and would allocate extra votes to them to ensure they won but this narrow victory makes this unlikely, although we can expect some careful calculations to be done by CCC and its support groups.  

Some detailed corrections are expected and would be welcomed, but should not change the overall picture.

What this demonstrates is there is an overall consensus in Zimbabwe that these two major political parties, as well as the other smaller parties, should work together as far as possible to develop a united development approach to the country. 

 Such a consensus is long overdue. 

 It is the result of the over three decades of “sanctions” imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States supported by most western countries.  

These countries had been the major donors and investors in Rhodesia before independence, and continued to do so up until 1996, when the Zimbabwe government cut grants to Zimbabwean companies in line with the (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) ESAP rulings of that year.  

ESAP holds that countries like Zimbabwe should buy food and other popularly consumed goods from the “cheapest source” rather than trying to develop their industries to be self-reliant as it had been doing. 

 Zimbabwe had thus stopped supporting its home industries and became dependent on imports for food and other consumer goods.  

By 2001-2005, the fast track land resettlement programme (FTLRP), worsened the situation as the majority of white farms, whether well run, mediocre or poorly run, were suddenly taken over by large numbers of local farmers, all desperate for some land. 

 This was soon supported by a government law passed in 2005.  

 “Sanctions” meant that donations from international donors and western investments were stopped unilaterally for three decades, with a drastic and disastrous impact on Zimbabwe.  

Zimbabwe has not had much foreign investment since, except for small amounts from Asian countries such as China and India.  

The Asian investments were supported by transfer of mining rights, itself another problematic issue.  

Since the imposition of “sanctions” in 2001 the Zimbabwe government has regularly requested for the withdrawal of these “sanctions” but they have not been withdrawn.  

The recent highly popular elections provide a great opportunity for Zimbabwe and all Zimbabweans to support the withdrawal of “sanctions” as soon as possible.  

This requires national unity and cooperation to be openly demonstrated by all parties. 

 The whole idea that “opposition” parties should be against whatever the government in power supports is understandable in view of the long liberation struggle where the liberation movements were against the Rhodesian settler controlled government, but that is long past.  

Zimbabweans now has a number of independent political parties which have different approaches to policies and development, but they nevertheless have a great deal in common. 

 It should now be possible for these parties to agree on what they have in common and work together now as closely as possible.  

This is particularly true in view of electorate’s decisive views on the need for joint collaboration.  

What are the shared policies everyone has discussed and nearly every party has agreed upon?   These include:

  • Ensuring at least 25% of the state budget is reserved for infrastructure.   Zimbabwe has neglected Infrastructure for more than three decades, as ESAP held that the private sector should be in charge of this.   Zimbabwe’s private sector is very small, and still largely dominated by Europeans.   A substantial amount of funds must be devoted to infrastructure by the state, by provincial and decentralized government, and by the private sector.   Moreover, this large amount of money must be divided in terms of national, provincial, decentralized authorities such as district councils and municipalities, and the private sector.   All are affected and all are responsible.   Most important of all the level of consultation and the decentralization of funding and implementation must cover all levels, not just totally controlled by central government as has become increasingly the case.   Decentralisation is key.   State funding has become a key area in the last twelve months, and has already made a great difference to economic growth.   Consistent development is essential.
  •  The utilisation of the banking system by the state and by all sectors of the economy.   The inherited banking system was strongly geared to supporting the formerly well developed Rhodesian economy, and has only been focused on African rural, agricultural, industrial and individual development in more recent times.   State provision of substantive funds to be lent out by banks is of critical importance, as banks are in a far better position to judge, monitor and supervise implementation. Over-centralisation by central government is problematic, and has been one of the major windows of corruption.   Banks work all over the country.   They are more aware of the regional and local differences, including population, markets and neighbouring possibilities.
  •  Education, Training, and professionalisation are absolutely critical to support financial inputs by state, private sector, the diaspora and decentralised government authorities.   All three areas require enormous improvement as well as significant, well targeted investment.   The tendency has been to continue depending on either the inherited Rhodesian systems, or to depend on the new systems set up after Independence.   Both systems have their strengths as well as their weaknesses.   The Rhodesian system was firmly based on the racist division of the economy and the administration.   This is very much reflected in its funding and organizational systems, which are naturally too narrow and too expensive to be established on a wide scale.   On the other hand the 1980 refinements were excellent for the time, when only 35% of men could attain Grade 5 education; 4% of Africans could attain “O” levels;  and only 1% could attain technical, vocational and university education.   That has indeed all changed, BUT not enough has been done to improve the quality and focus of the education, training and professionalization systems.   A great deal of work is required in all three areas over the next few decades.   The 1977 changes have indeed improved university focused education and training, but definitely have not been closely linked to better agricultural, industrial, economic and job creation areas.   This requires some finance of course, but additional financing alone is not sufficient.   The repetition of the expensive Rhodesian system, which is so out-of-date is a crying example.
  •  Last but not least, the country needs to be united.   All groups of society, whether rural peasantry, the urban workers, agricultural specialists and managers, industrial specialists and workers, and government officials need to demonstrate that they are willing and able to bring about such a much needed and radical transformation of all systems.

*Fay Chungwas a secondary school teacher in the townships; lecturer in polytechnics and universities, teacher trainer in the liberation struggle, civil servant and UN civil servant and minister of primary and secondary education.

These weekly articles published i are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, an independent consultant, managing consultant of Zawale Consultants (Private) Limited, past president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society  and past president of the Chartered Governance & Accountancy Institute. – [email protected] or mobile no +263 772 382 852

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