Incredible claims in party manifestos

HARARE - Several opposition parties and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF have launched their manifestos, all projecting themselves as committed to providing a messianic solution to the vast majority of the country’s poor in an attempt to redress inequalities in society.

All the parties that have unveiled their manifestos have made vague, largely unworkable but plausible-sounding rationale in their election manifestos that makes some of them sound vaguely believable to someone who has not thought about it much, which is most of us most of the time.

Since this sounds good to most people, the politicians who promise it are the ones that get elected, then later on they can slide back from what they promised.

For instance in the run to the 2013 elections, the ruling Zanu PF delivered what still ranks as the most ambitious economic policy proposal.

The ruling party’s five-year economic blueprint, ZimAsset, was supposed to steer the country forward at an average growth of 7,2 percent per annum and deliver over 2,2 million jobs.

The 129-page document detailed a five-year plan stretching to 2018 for the economy, detailing plans including the sale of bonds, securitisation of remittances, re-engagement with international finance institutions and the creation of special economic zones.

Financing options were supposed to focus on Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics), a group of large emerging market nations collectively known as BRICS, but the plans all fell through.

Critics suggest political parties must be forced to sign legal contracts promising to fulfil their campaign promises, which in most cases are pie in the sky.

The ruling party has just released its latest 2018 election manifesto — themed “Unite, Fight Corruption, Develop, Re-engage and Create Jobs” —at a colourful occasion in Harare, in which it made several incredible promises to the electorate.

The party’s manifesto contains an incredible claim that the party will build 1,5 million houses in just five years.

Political rivals and analysts took out their calculators and realised that the party claimed it would build an average of 822 houses per day for five years!

Independent candidate for the Mount Pleasant parliamentary seat‚ Advocate Fadzayi Mahere‚ went on to ask: “How will this be funded? Who’ll build these houses? Will people have to buy them? With what money‚“ before concluding that‚ “We are being lied to again.”

Zanu PF has also pledged to transform Zimbabwe into a middle income economy by 2030.

“The party will focus aggressively on reopening the country for business with the global community so as to build our industries, create jobs, eradicate the scourge of poverty and uplift people’s livelihoods.

“As a party, we seek the renewal of the mandate from the people to enable us to extend our transformation agenda.

“The 2018 people’s manifesto unveils the immense opportunities awaiting Zimbabweans under the new dispensation by demonstrating the party’s commitment to fulfilling the aspirations of the people,” reads part of the manifesto.

Former deputy Prime Minister in the stability-inducing GNU, Arthur Mutambara said Zanu PF’s projected six percent growth per annum was not being sufficiently ambitious, blasting the manifesto’s failure to clarify on how they intend to achieve their envisioned middle income country status by 2030.

“Despite the critique we have offered in the past, Zanu PF in its recently launched manifesto, insist on claiming that its vision is for Zimbabwe to be a middle-income country (MIC) by 2030.

“This is bland and banal statement which requires qualification, quantification and supporting details for it to be meaningful,” Mutambara said.

The robotics professor and Oxford scholar said the Zanu PF manifesto is vague, lacking clarity on which group of middle income countries they seek to achieve for Zimbabwe between lower MICs and Upper MICs.

“This is too broad a grouping. In any case our GDP per capita income is $977, hence jumping to $1005 (if we consider minimum qualification) over 12 years is not sufficiently ambitious. This is not visionary at all.

“It is instructive to note that the MICs are broken up into Lower-MIC and Upper-MICs.

“Does Zanu PF aim for Zimbabwe to be a lower-MIC or an upper-MIC?” quizzed Mutambara.

Social media users have said the ideas propelled in the manifestos are good but lack implementation.

“Zimbabwe is not short of great ideas or manifestos. Zimbabwe is short of principled leaders to make those manifestos a reality,” a Twitter user by the name Bret Mu Vet said.

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Another one said, “So if #Zimbabwe has more than 100 political parties, that will mean people will have to read more than 100 manifestos? Only in Zimbabwe! I don’t even think most people will read one manifesto at all”.

Zanu PF is not the only party that has since issued its own manifesto.

The mainstream MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa is yet to launch its manifesto.

Thokozani Khupe, who is now leading a splinter camp of the MDC, has also issued her own party’s manifesto.

In the manifesto, she promised to improve the country’s economy.

“Our economic plan for Building an Economy that Supports Transformation (BEST) of people’s livelihoods is anchored on the promotion of social democratic principles on the one hand while on the other responding to the prevailing socio-economic conditions where millions of Zimbabweans are trapped in poverty and joblessness.

“We believe in a strong democratic developmental State to facilitate in the uplifting of the majority out of extreme poverty through the following: Decent Jobs and remuneration, Re-industrialisation and Value Addition, Road Transport Services and Infrastructure, Restructuring and rehabilitation of Railway Services, Transformation of the mining sector, A new point of view on Tourism,” the party said.

The party also promised to offer, capital support to businesses, establish ICT, free Internet for all urban and rural populations, rehabilitate developmental infrastructure and restore viability of agriculture for food security, among other issues.

“The MDC-T government shall ensure ‘a rights-based approach’ to the development and management of domestic housing projects. Considering that the national housing backlog currently stands at 1,2 million units, the MDC-T government will ensure residential developments for at least 50 percent of the citizens on the housing waiting list in the first five years of governance.

“Unlike the current government administration which prioritises funding for mega infrastructure projects like power generators, airports and highways at the expense of domestic housing projects to ensure decent shelter, we shall ensure that we: promote access to shelter as a human right, support public and privately run housing projects, facilitate home-ownership schemes, special scheme for promotion of women and youth housing ownership.”

Zimbabwean ambassador to Senegal Trudy Stevenson, said most of the issues that are placed in these manifestos are hardly read by the electorate.

“#Zimbabwe True!  However, in my experience very sadly the manifestos parties work so hard to produce (my job to coordinate that for 10 years in MDC) are scarcely read by the voters — they go for the name and the symbol,” she wrote on Twitter.

Kisinoti Mukwazhe, who leads the Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP), has also launched his manifesto, focused on implementing several policies to deal with the youths and the public in general.

“60 percent of Zimbabwe’s Cabinet and other key decision making State arms must be youth at any prize in order to make them navigate Zimbabwe’s economy to a higher level of development.

“Our youngsters must drive Zimbabwe. The culture of abusing youth in political campaigns and for violence shall not be acceptable under ZDP government. ZDP government will consult the youth whenever national decisions are to be made.”

The party also promised to change several policies in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, war veterans, police force, teachers, vendors, the elderly, the physically challenged, those in the Diaspora, the judiciary and the health sector, among other sectors.

“ZDP government shall never interfere with the judiciary service of Zimbabwe. We shall support them as they perform their constitutional Mandate in an independent, non-partisan and professionally. ZDP shall uphold the constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Speaking about its investment policy, the party said: “No one must come to invest in the mining sector. We have already lost billions to those foreign miners. ZDP will not accept theft of our natural resources. No foreign nationals shall be allowed to work in the food clothing industries and water engineering sectors. Our people can do so.

“Zimbabwe has manpower and they can perform well in those key sectors. Investors are those who will employ more than 20 people. An investor can do infrastructure development like building road networks, advance technological skills, power generation and training of engineers among many more projects. The ZDP government will support locals to participate in the economic development initiatives”.

On the other hand, the Noah Manyika-led Build Zimbabwe Alliance, said it will cut the number of Cabinet ministers to 15, defend the constitutional rights, restore property rights and investor confidence, build a dynamic economy and introduce a culture of service among other issues.

“Zimbabwe needs leaders who will pay equal attention to the needs of every province. A clear message to the entire government and the public that each province is equally important to the nation will be sent by devolving the presidency and obligating the president and key staff to a week’s working residency per month in each of the country’s provinces,” the party said.


 

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