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Zanu-PF manifesto: Colour, anatomy and the verdict

09 May, 2018 - 00:05 0 Views
Zanu-PF manifesto: Colour, anatomy and the verdict In zanu-pf’s manifesto, President Mnangagwa clichés all this by saying: “We are now in a New Dispensation under the leadership of zanu-pf, where the focus and preoccupation of the new administration is opening the country for business, fighting corruption, creating jobs

The Herald

THE election season in Zimbabwe is earnestly on and the launch of the Zanu-PF manifesto for 2018 last Friday, lent weight to the momentum towards a ritual that should be held soon.

President Mnangagwa will be seeking his first national election as leader of Zanu-PF, the first time Robert Mugabe is not featuring on the ballot papers since 1980 — and largely thanks to Operation Restore Legacy that aided his exit from the scene.

And Morgan Tsvangirai, the other protagonist in this fixture for the last 20 years, will not be around having sadly been lost to cancer on Valentine’s Day 2018.

Zanu-PF’s manifesto is first on the market and the main opposition — MDC-Alliance — says it will reply in kind pretty soon.

The manifestos will likely come from different planets — just like the men leading the two main parties.

President Mnangwagwa, the older of the two at 75 years, is sober, measured, calculative and pragmatic.

His opposite — Nelson Chamisa — aged 40, is excitable, reckless and megalomaniac. That is more than a function of the generational gap: watchers by now have no doubt come up with indicators as to who is better fitted for national leadership and statecraft.

But that is not ours to say.

May the best man win!

The colour of a manifesto
Friday’s launch was colourful, as the ruling party showed that it is stepping up into modernity and embracing new ways of marketing.

The glitzy launch at the Harare International Conference Centre was accompanied by lots of advertising materials that we have never before seen from the ruling party that had tended to be conservative and unadventurous.

Now the electronic billboard that illuminates the party’s headquarters in downtown Harare speaks to a new way of doing things.

It is majestic. It is brave.

Other advertising material across the city will take lots of effort to drown, some key investment that the party has made towards visibility.

Never mind that some of the materials have been sullied by mistakes, sometimes of the “criminal” kind.

Yet the overall implication is that the ruling party is challenging the younger parties in spaces that the opposition would have dominated.

As we speak, Zanu-PF supporters are standing toe-to-toe with opposition counterparts on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s a war.

It tells us that the coming election will be fought on many fronts, and it will be interesting.

The Zanu-PF manifesto — with all its sights and sounds — is something that the opposition will be willing to counter, and we shall be seeing that in the next few weeks ahead of elections that will be held at least in the next 60 days.

The anatomy of a manifesto
Zanu-PF’s 2018 manifesto is by many scores modest, realistic and pragmatic.

The party may have learnt, at best, about previous lofty promises that could create a crisis of expectation and at worst the futility of building castles in the air — served by spaghetti roads and bullet trains.

On the other hand, the ruling party does not pretend to have been the best thing after powdered milk.

The manifesto has five key pillars under its theme, “Unite, Fight Corruption, Develop, Re-Engage, Create Jobs”.

The areas speak to a broad range of issues that are relevant to the party and its state, and the nation at large.

The party will require lots of unity and banish the ghost of factionalism. President Mnangagwa has promised to deal with corruption and has sought to make it one of the cornerstones of his domestic policy — and he will have to do lots more to clean the scourge.

The economic imperatives for development and job creation are also captured and these will be anchored on foreign and domestic investment.

A key to unlocking investment and economic opportunity will be in international relations in particular re-engaging with the West that imposed sanctions and disinvestment on Zimbabwe.

Already, President Mnangagwa has done a lot more work in this regard since taking over in November: travelling the world, building bridges and has been obliged with a lot of goodwill.

Being on friendly terms with the world — the global family of nations — will also be crucial in ensuring a vote of legitimacy come elections.

In the manifesto, President Mnangagwa clinches all this by saying: “We are now in a New Dispensation under the leadership of Zanu-PF, where the focus and preoccupation of the new administration is opening the country for business, fighting corruption, creating jobs, modernising the public sector and promoting investment, economic empowerment re-aligning to an investor friendly trajectory leading to economic growth and employment creation.”

The Verdict
In a column last week, The Herald’s Political Editor introduced the “ABBA” tool to assess a manifesto — or any policy for that matter.  A policy should tick the following boxes; whether it is: “Ambitious, Believable, Bankable, (and) Achievable”.

We mentioned supra that the manifesto is modest and its targets such as transforming Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by 2030, aggressively on re-opening the country for business with the global economy community, rebuilding industries, creating more jobs, eradicating poverty and uplifting people’s livelihoods are realistic achievable and sustainable.

The ruling party also aims to attain an economic growth rate of at least 6 percent per annum over the period 2018-2023 and accelerate the harmonisation of investment laws in order to improve the ease of doing business in the country, increase provision of rural electricity, build rail and road network as well as enhance the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programmes.

These are pronouncements and promises that will bring the house down, but certainly sound implementation of all these pointers in the next five years will certainly turn around Zimbabwe.

A key recognition to be made regarding this manifesto and the Zanu-PF campaign so far is that, for better or worse, it is short on sound-bites and lines to tag the electorate into the festival of the election.

The closest we have had is, “#EDHasMyVote” which is no doubt meant for a particular constituency, minor at that, and may not be able to be an appealing line for a national chorus.

Something catchier, and more broadly appealing will suffice.

And it’s not too late.

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