The National Development Strategy 1 that was launched last week and will run from 2021 to 2025 has proved to be an outstanding economic blueprint in various ways, a move that makes it one of the best so far.
In fact, the development strategy’s uniqueness is that it has targets that are supposed to be achieved within the next five years.
What is more important is that NDS1 lays the roadmap to achieving such targets, detailing exactly what is going to be implemented and at what stages.
The blueprint departed from the traditional outlook of such documents which in most cases appear like a wish list, to something that is practical and has timeframes for achievements.
This makes it easier to review progress at every stage and quickly re-align if it appears to be going off the rails.
Those with responsibilities to implement provisions of the economic blueprint will easily be in check because the provisions of the document are easily clear.
The master stroke is that for the first time, we have seen an economic blueprint in Zimbabwe which encompasses monitoring and evaluation, anchored on the integrated results-based management.
This encompasses provisions of the National Monitoring and Evaluation Policy that was developed by Government this year.
The importance of monitoring and evaluation in NDS1 is that everyone involved will be easily held accountable for their actions, while remedial actions can be taken so that the focus remains on track.
NDS1’s is to help the country attain Vision 2030, which entails achieving an upper middle income economy by that year. The attainment of Vision 2030 is the ultimate, as it will leave Zimbabwe a fairly prosperous country, with industrialisation and modernisation taking root.
To this effect, NDS1 should endeavour for high performance and delivery of quality goods and services to the people.
Through monitoring and evaluation, the NDS1 places emphasis on measurement of livelihoods and economic transformative results, and this involves looking at outputs, outcomes and impacts.
And this will contribute to the pragmatic implementation of programmes and projects to attain the goals set under the development policy.
By implementing the monitoring and evaluation approach, Government is opening itself up to scrutiny at every stage of the document.
NDS1 is not a far-fetched economic blueprint, it is one which people can actually point at and easily get to know why certain action is being taken on the economy or any other developmental aspect.
It is an economic blueprint so close to the people and carrying practical actions and solutions.
In most cases, economic documents are only understood by the elite, while the beneficiaries of the developmental aspirations who are the majority find it difficult to go through them and comprehend what they intent to achieve.
But the NDS1 is specifically for the people, as it carries a clear roadmap and what is supposed to be done and the end results.
The authorities will find it much easier this time to track the utilisation of financial resources allocated for programmes and projects to ensure transparency and accountability because of the monitoring and evaluation approach.
This will help eliminate bottlenecks and corruption that tend to characterise the implementation of such developmental policies. In another way, the move enhances the key tenets of good governance which include accountability and openness in the implementation of developmental activities.
In fact, good governance has become a buzzword in recent times, and the term is now widely used as an alternative to approaching societal problems and seeking developmental solutions.
It is a departure from the traditional and linear system of government that is viewed as rigid, to a flexible and all-encompassing system that takes everyone on board for a progressive society.
Good governance has become a central issue to developing countries, as they seek to consolidate their independence and democracy.
The NDS1 is thus an epitome of the New Dispensation’s implementation of the tenets of good governance and the ability to ensure developmental aspirations are aligned to the aspirations of the people.
The NDS1 document is clear that Cabinet will always be informed by timely, accurate and valid information on the progress and implementation status of all approved national programmes and projects.
It says Government ministers, accounting officers and programme managers will be held accountable for the delivery of the identified outcomes and outputs.
There will be regular feedback on progress being made through the monitoring and evaluation system, a move that will ensure everyone is focused on the work at hand.
At the implementation level, perhaps for the first time in the country’s history, programmes and projects will show the different levels of results, which consist of inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts.
This will be done through effective tracking, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of programme performance results at institutional level and for enhanced accountability.
To achieve this, the Monitoring and Evaluation Department in the Office of the President and Cabinet will be key in the overall oversight of the implementation of NDS1 across Government.
According to the NDS1 document, the department will provide technical guidance based on results-based management and evaluation technical guidelines and resolve arising technical issues.
The department will review policy guidelines, ministry plans, external evaluations and reports, and will be in charge of the results-based management, monitoring and evaluation training curricula, professional competency and certification programme.
The level of achievement of the expected results will be easily determined, as programme performance planning, monitoring and evaluation will be continuously carried out through the results-based management and evaluation framework.
The NDS1 is clear on the separation of responsibilities for major agencies responsible for its implementation.
The Office of the President and Cabinet will be responsible for creating an enabling policy environment and the overall oversight of the NDS1.
The Public Service Commission will ensure the relevant skills and adequate staff is deployed, while Treasury will provide adequate financial and material resources to implement the NDS1.
This is important in that with such clear roles, implementers can easily refer to areas they think will be lacking to the relevant agency for quick solutions.
To enhance the work towards fulfilling the provisions of NDS1, permanent secretaries and heads of agencies will sign performance contracts.
Apart from that, a high level NDS1 national steering committee will be set up and will generate reports on progress that will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval.
The NDS1 lists that the terms of reference for the National Steering Committee include providing strategic policy direction during implementation, mobilise resources and convene regular meetings to assess progress in the implementation.
The committee will also monitor and evaluate the implementation of NDS1. The other committees to be set up are the National Joint Review Committee and the Secretariat Tripartite Technical Level.
These committees will work together in implementing provisions of the NDS1 so that it achieves the results.