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Zanu PF manifesto a rehash of old themes
Patrice Makova, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
July 07, 2013

Zanu PF’s 2013 election campaign manifesto which focuses on indigenisation and empowerment was launched on Friday but the theme appears to centre on the same old issues at the core of the party’s campaigns in the past few elections.

The manifesto, themed Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment, outlines 22 key goals set to define the party’s policies over the next five years.

They include the usual mantra of independence, sovereignty, respect for the values and ideals of the liberation struggle, patriotism, employment, housing and economic prosperity.

In the manifesto, Zanu PF also revels in past achievements. These include the attainment of independence, the signing of the Unity Accord between Zanu PF and the late vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu, the land reform programme, education, health, gender advancement and security.

But the 108-page document, launched amid fanfare at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, does not refer to the promises the party made in 2008. The manifesto says the cornerstone of Zanu PF’s reform programme that would drive government work over the next five years is indigenisation and economic empowerment.

“The essence of the policy is to take back the economy by indigenising at least 51% of the shareholding of at least 1 138 foreign-owned companies and unlocking empowerment value from idle assets of proven mineral claims and others in the hands of parastatals and local authorities to enable indigenous Zimbabweans to own 100% of business enterprises across the economy,” reads the manifesto.

The document says the direct beneficiaries were not well-connected individuals or political elites but employees of indigenising companies through Employee Share Ownership Schemes, communities hosting these companies through Community Ownership Schemes and the general public through the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

But despite these claims, evidence on the ground shows that indigenisation was benefiting only those who were politically connected.

This is confirmed by reports of Zanu PF bigwigs grabbing shares in companies, mines and conservancies under the guise of indigenisation. Just like in the 2005 and 2008 elections, the 2013 manifesto promised government would build 1,25 million houses to clear the national housing backlog.

The promise has however to date remained a pipe dream as no tangible residential development has taken place since 2005 when thousands of urban dwellers were displaced under a so- called clean up exercise dubbed Operation Murambatsvina.

The manifesto promises that Zanu PF would create 2,2 million jobs over the next five years by unlocking value from idle assets worth at least US$1,8 trillion of mineral claims or reserves.

Zanu PF also promises in its manifesto to embark on special projects, among them a US$19,5 million Presidential Scholarship Programme. The party said the selection was national, non-partisan and empowers applications from intellectually, socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

But the programme has reportedly largely benefited children of Zanu PF officials while student movements have said the resources should otherwise be used to capacitate financially struggling local colleges and universities.

The manifesto also promises a US$300 million Presidential Agricultural Input Support Scheme. It also promises to establish a Harare Stock Exchange to provide a platform for exclusive participation by indigenous individuals and 100% indigenous companies.

Zanu PF faces stiff competition from MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the July 31 election.

If the party wins, it remains to be seen whether it will deliver this time around.

Party promises chiefs huge payouts

Traditional chiefs have also been promised US$27 million from a Presidential Support Programme in recognition of their role as the custodians of the country’s culture, tradition and values.

Under the programme, each chief would be allocated a Presidential Support Fund of US$20 000 per year. Traditional leaders are known for openly supporting Zanu PF, but the new Constitution bars them from being partisan.

In the past they have received vehicles, allowances and other freebies amid accusations that this was meant to buy their support.

Zanu PF points fingers elsewhere in the face of failure to deliver set goals

The manifesto also outlines several threats which it says stand in the way of achieving its 22 goals.

These include Western sanctions which the party says are a threat to national security. The party claims that sanctions have cost the country US$42 billion.

“The cost of sanctions in terms of their negative contribution to political tensions and polarisation of views in the country, economic decline, the deterioration of physical and social infrastructure, poverty and unemployment are incalculable,” the document says.

Zanu PF also identifies what it calls “treachery” by over 3 000 non-governmental organisations and religious groups which regularly organise peace prayer meetings, accusing them of embarking on a “Regime Change” agenda.

“Particularly egregious in this regard is the fact that over the last four years during the life of the GPA government, some US$2,6 billion has been poured into these NGOs to support nefarious activities that have been camouflaged by sanitised language of humanitarian and development assistance to cover up sinister regime change intentions,” reads the manifesto.

“The US$2,6 billion has been disbursed via opaque parallel budgeted channels that are not accountable and which have been used to damage national accounts and Treasury process.”

Zanu PF also identifies donor support to the education and health sectors as a threat to its goals. It accuses donors of pouring funds to the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture and that of Health and Child Welfare headed by Henry Madzorera because they were controlled by former opposition officials.

The party accused Education minister, David Coltart of running a parallel structure called the Education Transition Fund (ETF) which it says has received over US$200 million since 2009.

The manifesto says the ETF has been used to bribe and corrupt headmasters, teachers, and provincial and district education officials, some of whom it claims, were now hostile to Zanu PF and openly supporting MDC.

But despite the claims, evidence on the ground shows that both the health and education sectors stabilised under the leadership of Madzorera and Coltart respectively. Since they took over after the near-collapse of the health and education sectors, hospitals have been restocked with drugs, equipment and qualified staff, while schools now have teachers, books and children have gone back to school.

The Zanu PF manifesto says for the past four years, the country witnessed a sharp and worrisome rise of reports and incidents of corruption in the public, private, professionals, NGO’s and religious sectors, including local authorities.

But the document does not mention allegations of rampant corruption by Zanu PF officials which prompted the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission to investigate some bigwigs and certain government departments.

The anti-corruption watchdog was blocked by Zanu PF from arresting suspects and making further investigations.

Even President Robert Mugabe at Zanu PF’s annual national people’s conference held in Gweru last year admitted that some from his inner circles, including cabinet ministers, were corrupt to the core, warning that they faced arrest.

However, no action has been taken against them over six months after the threat.

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