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2-man race in battle for Zimbabwe State House

21 Aug 2023 at 06:38hrs | Views
AS things stand, it is abundantly clear and an inescapable fact that the battle for State House is squarely between Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, even though I respectfully note the presence of other presidential candidates on the ballot in the 2023 plebiscite.

However, it is my well-considered view that the other presidential aspirants are just making presidential numbers with no significant impact on the outcome of the presidential vote.

Given the gravity and importance of the harmonised elections in defining the political and development trajectory of the nation, therefore, it is prudent that the people of Zimbabwe must fully comprehend what the two presidential candidates are offering in the event that they are elected to power.

Ideally, the electorate would learn about the electoral promises through manifestos, which comprise the political wishlists of the respective parties in order to make informed choices on which party to vote for.

Recently, we witnessed CCC's Chamisa launching his party election manifesto, making public his party wishlist at the same time soliciting for support and votes in the August 23, 2023 plebiscite.

Of great concern is the delay in making public their political views, policies and programmes, which essentially deprived the public of enough time to read and understand the gist of their manifesto.

More time would allow the electorate to internalise the electoral promises and help them make informed choices in the ballot box.

Perhaps this is characteristic of a young democracy like ours in which voters are often taken for granted and grossly manipulated.

Also, very little is articulated about the system of governance and the nature of government structures envisaged in order to instil confidence and hope that the people's aspirations are going to be fulfilled under their government.

Clarity on how people will be governed is of paramount importance before people go to the polls.

Ambushing the electorate is undemocratic, unfair and not good, therefore, undesirable in a modern democratic dispensation.

People deserve transparency and are entitled to know who will govern them and how, especially when you claim to be the government in waiting.

Therefore, pronouncements of substantive policy development alternatives, system of governance and clear vision are desirable. People of Zimbabwe want change with substance, not just mere political change, that will transform their lives for the better.

On the contrary, the Zanu-PF presidential candidate Mnangagwa boastfully declared that his party did not need a manifesto, claiming that the work achieved under the so-called second republic spoke volumes of their capabilities.

Agreed, we acknowledge that a few isolated development projects and initiatives have been implemented in the last five years. However, the development allegedly achieved is so insignificant to fully compensate for Zanu-PF's misrule and the subsequent run down of the existing infrastructure over 43 years.

The uncharacteristic flooding of our streets by vendors in all our cities, towns and growth points signifies a collapsed economy and high unemployment rate. It is not good enough for Zanu-PF to assume that presenting an election manifesto to the electorate is unnecessary because it is in government. The manifesto is meant to articulate the national development plans, national aspirations and implementation strategies.

In fact, the new government is obligated to produce and make public its five-year national strategic and development plan and key policy objectives. Therefore, it cannot be politically right and correct to assume that citizens should vote in the dark. People are entitled to know what the Zanu-PF government will do differently in order to improve their livelihoods and achieve sustainable economic growth. They would also want to know how the government plans to deal with corruption, looting and plunder of our national resources. Corruption has become endemic and a threat to national security and the country's stability. Therefore, clear signposts and a road map to eradicate corruption must be articulated.

Also, citizens would want to know how the new government would address the perennial problem of corruption-ridden and loss-making parastatals and State enterprises. Furthermore, people want to know what the new government will do to protect mineral resources which are being grabbed and plundered mostly by Chinese companies and those associated with the Zanu-PF regime. The current trend is that communities are totally excluded and are usually intimidated by Chinese miners when they inquire about the mining activities in their motherland.

People want to know what the new government will do to stop the new scramble for gold, lithium and other precious minerals by foreigners. Also, people want to know the criteria in the awarding of mining prospecting licences and mineral deals that have become prevalent and fashionable under the second republic.

Of great concern is that most mining deals lack transparency and are shrouded in secrecy in the name of the presidential directive and protection. People want to hear how issues of institutionalised marginalisation, inequality and injustice will be addressed. Further, people want to know how the new government would reduce poverty and hunger in the country. Also, citizens want to know how soon they should expect the full implementation of the devolution of power in terms of Chapter 14 of the Constitution and beyond. Unfortunately, the Zanu-PF government has deliberately fronted the so-called devolution funds as devolution of power, yet it's not. Devolution is about the establishment of autonomous political and governance structures with power to govern within legally defined boundaries. The disbursement and accountability mechanisms of the devolution funds are susceptible to political manipulation, bias and corruption. The list of development concerns and governance that need policy directive to redress the anomalies created by unequal development and marginalisation is long.

Unfortunately, the two frontrunners have been conspicuous by their silence on critical policy areas that speak to nation building, unity, integrated development strategies, political and economic inclusivity, job creation, reconciliation and peace building. What has been happening in most of their campaigns is political grandstanding and populist politics, which, in essence, does not address the national concerns, national objectives and aspirations of the people. Our people are politically-squeezed between a rock and a hard place as they continue to desperately struggle for freedom, happiness and prosperity in vain.

Obviously, it is too late to demand electoral reforms now, though it is clear that the electoral playing ground is glaringly tilted in favour of the incumbent Zanu-PF government. The sad political reality is that the opposition parties slept on the job, especially those represented in Parliament, as they dismally failed to push for electoral reforms during their tenure in Parliament. Without electoral reforms, winning an election in Zimbabwe will be extremely difficult, just like attempting to go through the eye of a needle. I must hasten to say that the opposition under the leadership of the late MDC president Morgan Richard Tsvangirai persistently and consistently campaigned for electoral reforms, resulting in some significant gains being achieved in 2008. Sadly, the current crop of opposition parties has thrown the agenda of electoral and security sector reforms under the bus. Consequently, Zanu-PF has taken advantage of this lapse on call for reforms and fortified its hold over State resources and security which they have effectively and efficiently used to guarantee them victory in August 23, 2023 elections. Why the opposition chose to remain silent about levelling the electoral playing field, nobody knows, and it's mind-boggling. Literally speaking, all State organs, State resources and government institutions have collapsed into electoral campaign machinery to help Zanu-PF retain power.

The lack of independence and transparency in the management of national elections by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is of great concern. Further, it compromises and undermines the credibility of the elections locally and internationally. It is undeniable that Zec has always been militarised and captured by the Zanu-PF regime. In this regard, we call upon Zec to rise to the occasion and put the interest of the people first. Indeed, every vote must count and have a say in the 2023 plebiscite outcome. Despite all the myriad of electoral challenges, it is imperative to demand at least a non-violent, peaceful, free, fair and transparent election in order to avoid another disputed electoral outcome.

    Lovemore Moyo is a former Speaker of the National Assembly. He writes in his capacity.

Source - newsday
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