SAVE OUR SELVES: A Quick Note on Horizontal Philanthropy, Survival and Development

Women belonging to a savings club - Stokvel / Round / Mukando counting handing each other and counting money.

SAVE-OUR-SELVES: A Quick Note on Horizontal Philanthropy, Survival and Development

November 9th, 2020

Words by Alexandra Tokozile Mliswa

3 min read

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Community Philanthropy

If you have found yourself reading this, I’d like to imagine that you already have a good enough understanding of what philanthropy is. So, I’ll delve into a brief explanation about the ‘horizontal’ part of it all- but of course, not without a little background.Philanthropy was not a new concept to me when I started doing some work at SIVIO Institute for their ‘Phil Lab’ (Philanthropy Lab) mid-2019. My view on philanthropy was centred around the rich giving to the poor or underdeveloped communities waiting to receive grants from your Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations and then, using them to address the social injustice or developmental question of the day. What I have just described is what is known as vertical philanthropy- a top-down system of giving. ‘Giving’ italicized because that’s what philanthropy is.Before this point, it had never occurred to me that philanthropy could be multidirectional. It sounds silly saying it now but honestly, the reality that you didn’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist had never properly occurred to me! neither had it occurred to me that poor people could really help each other and themselves in both moments of dire need (disaster/crisis relief) and in generally improving the quality of their lives (development). -  by this I mean that I hadn’t really accepted 2 important characteristics of horizontal philanthropy -

  1. That community members can meaningfully contribute to the development of their own communities and so improve the quality of their own lives, and
  2. That these community members did not have to be rich in order to do so- the resources they have no matter how limited they think they are would be useful

So, in a nutshell horizontal philanthropy is people of the same income level practising giving amongst themselves. We already have some long-standing examples of this basic notion of pooling of resources in Zimbabwe; - co-operatives, “maRound”, burial societies etc.

Why I’m drawn to the idea of horizontal philanthropy in particular is  because it breathes life into the idea of human agency.

The victim narrative perpetuated by vertical philanthropy is in my view rather grim and a little deterministic. The idea that the poor are completely helpless and, no matter how much they will it, cannot change their own fates doesn’t give us much credit as Africans or as human beings, nor does it speak to the resourceful and entrepreneurial nature of the Zimbabwean people that I have seen over years and that I continue to witness every day.

Let’s bring it back home, apart from various evidence that points to the fact that philanthropy has not only, always existed in African cultures but is actually a part of our identity and societal fabric – it’s important that we make a deliberate mental shift from the idea that we must look up to other people for help and that they must look down to give it but rather to start fostering a culture of looking next to us – and us in turn being looked to.

I am going to avoid getting into an academic discussion about vertical philanthropy vis-à-vis horizontal philanthropy but what I do want to do is to press on how in hard times (which is really all time for the past few years in Zimbabwe – COVID-19 or not) we can only really rely on our communities and also that we are better off doing so.

Let us take the current global climate right now, there is a global pandemic whose full effects are yet to be experienced, together with Zimbabwe’s enduring poor economic state, we might not know what comes next but common sense dictates that whatever we were getting in the way of aid, there will be less of it.

  1. The limited, limited resources – whatever little money there was to go around there is even less now. Aid resources have been redirected towards fighting COVID-19 but other health, food and crisis related problems still exist. Simply put, there wasn’t much to go around to begin with and there is even less now.
  2. The number of aid beneficiaries just went up – with a global crisis, countries that had a stable economy and a relatively stable health care system (China, the United States of America, Italy, Spain) are struggling to cope and those that were already unstable – take Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Niger for example are a lot worse off.
  3. It works! Pooling of resources has been seen to work both in general development and in crisis relief as well as promise a more “sustainable” development as it promotes a feeling of ownership and overall unity in the community which, we could really use in Zimbabwe right now !

So How do we save ourselves? Here are a few ideas that you may already be familiar with, but check out SIVIO Institutes Phil Lab for more about all this!

  1. “MaRound”/ giving circles – encourage them, recognise them modify them to suit your community’s needs.
  2. Community Foundations by residents, by people related to residents, by people in the diaspora

So, we are done , I hope reading this has; taught you a little bit about philanthropy, encouraged you to share the article or the ideas herein with your friends and relatives and maybe even inspired you to give – whatever you can or are willing to, whenever you can.

My Reflections on the Policy and Advocacy Lab

reflections on the public policy lab

My Reflections on the Policy and Advocacy Lab

September 10th, 2020

Words by Sandra Garwe

5 min read

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Public Policy

What comes into your mind when you hear the term advocacy? In my case, whenever I explain my work to people, they always ask if I am now a politician. I have come to realise that most people associate advocacy with politics. Then again, everything is political. Prior to joining SIVIO Institute, I envisioned advocacy as something to do with high profile individuals sharing petitions online, activists staging demonstrations outside government buildings and media sharing their stories. In retrospect, my thinking was influenced by the fact that these are the most visible actions at policy engagement. However, this is barely a representation of everyday individuals who take part in policy advocacy on various platforms without cameras in their face.At SIVIO Institute I am responsible for coordinating the Policy and Advocacy Lab. As someone who was coming from a Community Nutrition background, I struggled to comprehend how my experience would fit in the grand scheme of the advocacy lab. Of course, I have been involved in policy and advocacy before. My advocacy has always been “issue” specific with a particular focus on marginalised groups such as women. I have engaged different stakeholders at community level and on social media to raise awareness on issues affecting women. Even my MSc dissertation focused on maternal health service delivery for marginalised religious women. Interestingly, at this stage I barely understood that what I was doing was actually advocacy; probably just an issue of semantics. Joining SIVIO Institute improved my advocacy and I began to understand the concept behind what I was doing all along. Since joining the organisation, I have had the privilege of working with 15 advocacy practitioners from other organisations spread across the country. It has been an eye-opening experience on how we can bring citizens’ voices back into the policy making space.

So, what exactly is the Policy and Advocacy Lab?

When was the last time you were engaged on a problem that was affecting your community? The question sounds so simple but for most people the realisation is that they never participate in any policy formulation processes. In the most recent report by SIVIO Institute on Citizen’s Perceptions and Expectations carried out across Zimbabwe, 60.18% of the survey respondents indicated that they have never been involved in policy formulation process, whilst 39.82% confirmed that they have been a part of some consultation process, mostly around the performance of local government and consultations for improved service delivery[1]. It is not surprising that in Zimbabwe, there is usually a top-down approach in policy formulation, assessment and refinement. Citizens have been left out in conversations for too long. Studies have shown that policies have a better chance of success if we include the voices of the people, but this is not the case in our country, the process has mainly been expert driven and monopolised by technocrats. Economic policy reforms have not adequately created socio-economic benefits for the general population. Coupled by government failure to meet its promises, there is a high level of mistrust and discontent from citizens. The Lab’s premise is that in order for policy to be successful there is need for platforms where citizens are included and actively engaged in the policy processes.

The Policy and Advocacy Lab (PAL) is one such platform where professionals from different walks of life ranging from the humanities, biology, engineering, commerce, law and development work; who are not policy makers, but instead are involved in advocacy and interact with communities as policy advocates. The participants in the Lab are using a collaborative  creative space https://sccs.sivioinstitute.org/ to try and tackle complex challenges in the formulation and implementation of government policy. We have also infused deliberative democracy practices in ensuring that the lab does not produce another cohort of top-down experts but rather collegial community leaders who recognise that communities have ideas and also assets to resolve some of their problems. The main idea is to improve advocacy actions by nurturing collaborative arrangements with communities. These collaborative spaces contribute towards jointly identifying policy problems, new research methods that engage citizens as active agents on the gaps in existing policy and provide comprehensive advocacy solutions. The interactive nature of the PAL allows individuals to connect with the communities to identify the root cause of policy problems. Often, experts hardly engage with people at grassroots level. While everyone cannot come to be a part of all policy discussions and all problems cannot be effectively addressed overnight via consultancy, it is important to think of the voices being left out.

What have we been doing?

The Advocacy Lab is an 8-stage process.

Naming the problem.

This stage includes the identification of the problem behind the problem which we call naming the problem. The naming process is very political. Usually experts would give technical names to problems that alienate others who are not steeped in the discipline of language being used.  Citizens on the other hand tend to use everyday language to name what they think is the problem. Furthermore, if the problem is inadequately named it may lead to the wrong solution or even alienating actors who would have been critical in resolving the problem. We asked participants in the lab to jointly name a problem with members of communities where they work. Given the lock-down conditions many of the lab participants leveraged technology to host town hall like meetings.

One interesting aspect of this stage is that it is an on-going process. As the lab progresses, participants always refer back to this stage and ensure they have named the problem and not the symptom of the problem.

Mapping stakeholders and gathering concerns

We aimed to develop an understanding of individuals or groups of people affected by the policy problem and the extent to which they are affected. This was an important stage because we understood the need to keep citizens at the centre. We engaged stakeholders affected by the problem through mapping of affected communities and listing concerns regarding the problem. It was at this stage that we considered the possible policy actions and potential trade-offs required. We also sought to understand the extent of the problem. Is it unique to one community (or social group)? Critical questions used include; (i)Who else is affected by the problem, (ii) is this a national problem or its only isolated to a certain region, and (iii) who has the authority to resolve the problem (local or national government)?

Learning about the history of the identified problem

In many instances, policy practitioners (advocate and even policy formulators) rarely consider the history of the problem. Together with the lab participants we developed rapid appraisals to understand the history of the problem and the different measures (including policy) that have been deployed to resolve the problem. It was also at this stage where we sought to understand the agency within communities to effectively address some of the problems.

Exploring existing measures to tackle the problem

We take cognisance of the fact that we are not dealing with a brand-new problem. Its impacts may have accentuated. Again, we went back into communities and asked the following; (i) what has been done about the problem to date, (ii) what have communities done in responses to the problem, (iii) what have been some of the lessons from the previous attempts?

Learning from others in the region,

Whilst some problems are unique and localized, the majority of the problems that we confront such as climate change, dealing with pandemics, and corruption are quite common in other countries as well. The lab participants managed to carry out research on other countries to identify what worked well and what did not.

Framing possible policy actions,

The challenge of policy advocacy goes beyond poking holes at an existing policy but instead to devote significant attention in designing well thought out coherent policy actions. These should be informed by the lessons and evidence from the preceding stages. At this stage, communities understand the name of the problem and the lab participants engaged them to start thinking about possible policy actions while also considering the advantages and disadvantages of each. These conversations have resulted in creating frameworks for addressing the problem including actions that need to be considered in dealing with the problem and identifies adverse consequences.

 Identifying the best possible methods of communicating new policy ideas problems

The work of policy advocacy has to delicately balance persuasion and confrontation where necessary. Participants in the Lab are currently on this stage and with the information collected during the first 6 stages, we are starting to plan for advocacy.

Carrying out concerted advocacy actions

We will be working alongside lab participants in rolling their ‘concerted advocacy actions’. It’s not a big bang but we are just laying the seeds for a new movement of community focused policy advocacy

[1] https://www.sivioinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Citizens-Perception-and-Expectation-Report.pdf

The Return of Hyper-inflation and Suggestions for Fixing the Problem

zim one trillion dollar note

The Return of Hyper-inflation and Suggestions for Fixing the Problem

October 1st, 2018

Words by Tendai Murisa

6 min read

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Economy

Knock Knock,

Who is there?

It’s me..

Who are you?

C’mon have you already forgotten me. I was here ten years ago…?

I wasn’t here ten years ago

Oh I see…my name is hyper-inflation I used to hang out with that fella Gono.

 

Hyper-inflation is back albeit in a slightly different from what we saw in 2008. Ten years ago our supermarkets emptied out. We were importing basic grocery items from our neighbors. There was literally no fuel in the country except for those that could import directly. In the editorial section of today’s (1/10/2018) Herald, the author(s) acknowledges that the prices of goods have been going up. Only one commodity has remained stable; fuel. And that is the problem. Today the Governor of the Reserve Bank will be presenting the Monetary policy. In this blog I will make some suggestions of what I would have done if I was the Governor (but thankfully I am not)-he has an unenviable task. It doesn’t look like he is spoilt for choice.

What is the real problem?

There are a number of problems contributing to hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe, however the lack of sufficient foreign currency reserves to pay for imports is the major one. Zimbabwe faces a unique challenge compared to her neighbors, she can’t access any Balance of Payment (BoP) support. The former minister of Finance, Honorable Biti was very right when he said, ‘you eat what you kill’ but practically that is impossible for a variety of reasons. Many developing countries especially our neighbours in the sub-region, receive what we call Direct Budgetary Support (DBS) and in some countries it’s as high as 40% of the total budget. There are many reasons why Zimbabwe does not have access to DBS or ongoing BoP support and that is a discussion for another day. By his own admission the current Minister of Finance says the country only has $200million as import cover when it should have US$1billion. However, this problem has also been exaggerated by the pricing system at play in the country. There is no reason whatsoever that justifies paying  for anything using real USD cash(notes) when you can change it at the parallel market and get double for it. We have a problem of speculation.

The second set of problems have to do with options or choices of what to do with the scarce resources they have, to achieve optimal returns. I think this is where the existing RBZ strategy is inadequate.

Fuel Subsidy

The fuel industry in Zimbabwe is mostly dominated by private players; a combination of multinationals such as Total, Engen, Puma and also local players. The RBZ has put fuel at the top of its import list. Strategic? Maybe. The fuel companies pay for the fuel with local RTGS money (transfer from their local bank to the RBZ’s account) to get a commodity that has been paid for in foreign currency. They sell this commodity using local prices (1.32 per litre)-which literally translates to US$0.58 per litre or even less depending on where the RTGS to US Dollar rate is today. Yes there is a foreign currency shortage in the country but this subsidy has effectively ensured that no one in his right mind will pay for fuel using the real United States Dollars. You pick the little dollars you get either from the foreign currency remittance outfits or from your bank but you do not head to the fuel station first, NO, you call one of the money changers and for US$100 they deposit RTGS$220.00 into your account. Drivers of cross border trucks and buses from neighbouring countries have also caught on to this. They get cash from their companies either in Rands or USD get to Zimbabwe, change the money and also get fuel at a subsidy. This does not need a smart person to figure out how this is playing out,-even the folks at RBZ should be aware of this.

Generally, a subsidy of this nature and size needs to be better managed instead of pretending as if market forces are at play.  Over the years Economists have figured out that it is inevitable for  human behavior i to abuse such state-based facilitiesyet our government does not see the need to manage it. They let it just play out until we have a problem. Remember at the onset of dollarization we could withdraw US$1,000.00-remember those days? Other forward looking chaps who have lived long enough in Africa knew that those days would come to end but not our government. Even chaps from the sub-region took advantage of this loophole-just deposit Malawi/Zambia Kwacha equivalent into your local account, drive down to Zim pick up USD in Cash and go back play around with it-selling it back and forth- and you are back again.

Moving on-where else do we have a problem? Airline tickets. It currently costs around RTGS$350 (US$165) for a return trip to Johannesburg from Harare. Air Zimbabwe has to pay for their landing/handling fees and other related costs using either real United States Dollars or South African Rands in Johannesburg. Where do they get the foreign currency to make such payments? Oh but of course from the Reserve Bank. This is a subsidy for air travel- Zimbabwe should rank as one of a very few countries that subsidizes their citizens to travel outside the country and in the process externalizing the scarce foreign currency.

What can be done in the short to medium term.

The new government has taken a turn to the right, we are about to see ESAP round two[1]. In that regard- the long-term plan as suggested by the new Minister of Finance and also by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor sounds like a standard stabilisation program and if government commits to the raft of measures that are required to make it successful a turn-around in increased production is likely to manifest in mid to end of 2019. However, both the Minister and the Governor have been ambivalent about what needs to be done today. There are a number of measures that the RBZ should consider as a matter of urgency.

Remove the fuel subsidy

The fuel sector and indeed the road-based passenger and good transportation services are dominated by private sector players whose main goal is to make profit. The Government of Zimbabwe should allow the private players to import their own fuel. As an incentive they should be given advance notice to say we will only supply you with fuel for the next thirty days after that ‘indoda iyazibonela’(‘One man for himself and God for us all’). I can assure you they will come up with measures to remain competitive. They should be allowed to come up with their multi-pricing schemes and to keep the foreign currency they receive. The same forex that has been elusive will suddenly re-emerge. Fuel will continue to flow as long as they are allowed to place their orders without having to wait for the RBZ to make payments on their behalf. People will still drive their cars no matter what. Besides we are heading towards the festive season- our brothers from SA and other neighbouring countries will be awash with cash. This alone will allow the RBZ to focus on securing foreign currency for other critical sectors such as for drugs/medical equipment and to also help manufacturing companies secure inputs needed on time.

Multi-tier pricing of RTGS and Bond note.

I never thought we would have to say this to the RBZ- surely after 2008 you know of the parallel rate. Why do we want to act as if it does not exist? Please allow every retailer to have multiple rates? In other words, put your RTGS currency as part of the multi-currency system and let the market determine the rate instead of this lie of a 1:1. It does not exist. You will be surprised… the dollars will come back into circulation.

Think about the Bottom of the Pyramid

We have a challenge of free-riders- the existing subsidy system unfairly benefits those who can afford the real prices of goods. The GoZ has been lazy all along-they know this problem exists but were not keen to devise a strategy to resolve it. How do you come up with a targeted subsidy system without creating a new bureaucracy and also new forms of corruption? They have to consider this; one of the ways would have been a state/municipality owned bus company. But consider this, a brand-new bus costs around US$40k. Is it not better to commit just US$10million to revamp ZUPCO and ensure that its run professionally to recover costs and not to make super-profits? By the way that figure US$10million is way less than what the national airline requires. How many of our people fly on a daily basis? I urge government to consider revamping ZUPCO instead of AirZim at least for now. I hear others saying that this will take forever-yes given the existing bureaucracy, but if they wanted they can revamp ZUPCO within a month or even create a new entity with 250 brand new buses-just with US$10million that can ply most of the local routes. This will be the entity to enjoy the fuel subsidy.

In terms of commodities; this is where it gets messy- government should consider resuscitation of major manufacturing companies. The companies that are resuscitated using cheap government money should also be under some form of pricing regime as part of the loan repayment. This will significantly allow for locally manufactured goods to compete locally.

Finally the message is for the RBZ Governor to consider reducing government’s commitment in securing foreign currency, allow for the market (especially banks and fuel importers) to resolve the foreign currency shortages without meddling and instead focus on how to cushion those at the Bottom of the Pyramid from the inevitable harsh structural reforms that are coming.

[1] We foresee many challenges with the turn towards neoliberalism especially around inclusion and investments in social policy.

ZIMAT 3: Tourism, Investment Model, Rural Development and Financial Services UPPs Cluster

screenshot of the zimbabwe manifesto analysis tool - 2018 version

ZIMAT 3: Tourism, Investment Model, Rural Development and Financial Services UPPs Cluster

July 17th, 2018

Words by Tendai Murisa

2 min read

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Politics and Public Policy

Introduction

Analysis of the various parties’ manifestos provides some indication of similarities of areas of focus and pledges made by the parties to the electorate, but in all that space of potential opportunities for engaging voters are attempts at differentiating propositions that are unique to each party. The question is whether these unique proposition points (UPPs) speak to the needs of the electorate and whether they are reflective of the dynamics of the voters’ demographics and challenges which an incoming government would need to address. Thus, a more micro-review of the intended ‘unique blue ocean opportunities for differentiation outside the common ‘established red ocean areas of opportunities’ is useful in further separating the various parties ‘supposed unique propositions to the electorate.’ This is particularly important given the fact that our overview has already indicated a high level of similarities in the broad pledges made by the parties. We can only address this by identifying potential unique propositions for various clusters covered by the Manifesto analysis.

 

Overview of UPP Focus by Parties

A summary overview of the parties’ unique proposition points in figure 1  indicates that all the five parties drafted UPPs targeted at addressing challenges in  mining, land & agrarian reforms, infrastructure and overall economic model. Only two parties positioned their UPPs around manufacturing, informal sector and employment.  Interestingly there is no explicit coverage of social services oriented UPPs although some of these could be integrated into other UPPs in areas such as infrastructure development. Although one would expect some explicit UPPs to reinforce the parties’ pledges in areas such as education and health and general social well-being of the voters.

Summary Commentary

Only three parties have focused on UPs that address an issue that is key to voters. Variations of some UPs have been outlined although these lack detail e.g. APA and ZANU Pf. The MDC Alliance’s propositions have a wider base for creating potential unoccupied blue ocean opportunities for differentiation although there is limited detail

UPP Review

This is one area where parties should have used articulation of UPs to distinguish themselves in addressing an issue which is pertinent to voters’ day to day lives.

Summary Commentary

Only three parties have focused on UPs that address an issue that affects how most of their commitments will be met. ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance outline

UPP Review

There is little clarity on how funds will be raised to undertake the huge commitments made.

Summary Commentary

Parties that have tried to develop UPPs for rural development have focused on the broad emotional appeal focus of urbanization of the rural areas.

UPP Review

UPPs for rural development that have been used could have been more specific in terms of identifying niche opportunities that speak to the needs of the different groups of voters in these areas, thereby avoiding treating rural areas as one homogenous group with similar needs.

ZIMAT 2: Mining, Land & Agrarian Reforms, Infrastructure and Economic Model UPPs Cluster

screenshot of the zimbabwe manifesto analysis tool - 2018 version

ZIMAT 2: Mining, Land & Agrarian Reforms, Infrastructure and Economic Model UPPs Cluster

July 10th, 2018

Words by Tendai Murisa

2 min read

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Politics and Public Policy

Introduction

Analysis of the various parties’ manifestos provides some indication of similarities of areas of focus and pledges made by the parties to the electorate, but in all that space of potential opportunities for engaging voters are attempts at differentiating propositions that are unique to each party. The question is whether these unique proposition points (UPPs) speak to the needs of the electorate and whether they are reflective of the dynamics of the voters’ demographics and challenges which an incoming government would need to address. Thus, a more micro-review of the intended ‘unique blue ocean opportunities for differentiation outside the common ‘established red ocean areas of opportunities’ is useful in further separating the various parties ‘supposed unique propositions to the electorate.’ This is particularly important given the fact that our overview has already indicated a high level of similarities in the broad pledges made by the parties. We can only address this by identifying potential unique propositions for various clusters covered by the Manifesto analysis.

 

Overview of UPP Focus by Parties

A summary overview of the parties’ unique proposition points in figure 1  indicates that all the five parties drafted UPPs targeted at addressing challenges in  mining, land & agrarian reforms, infrastructure and overall economic model. Only two parties positioned their UPPs around manufacturing, informal sector and employment.  Interestingly there is no explicit coverage of social services oriented UPPs although some of these could be integrated into other UPPs in areas such as infrastructure development. Although one would expect some explicit UPPs to reinforce the parties’ pledges in areas such as education and health and general social well-being of the voters.

Summary Commentary

All the parties recognize the potential role of mining in achieving economic turnaround. Hence the various differentiation propositions. Three of the parties explicitly identify opportunities in targeting artisanal mining.

UPP Review

The parties’ recognition of small scale mining is important but there could be further opportunities for clearer differentiation through innovations in this sector given its potential role in economic turnaround.

Summary Commentary

All the parties have identified different opportunities for differentiation which range from revisiting land allocation and to identification of niche groups such as students and women.

UPP Review

There is a fair outline of diverse UPPs. Parties could look for scope to integrate these with their UPPs in the agri-business cluster.

Summary Commentary

All the parties recognize the potential for differentiation in investing in infrastructure investment primarily in the energy sector. There is still an element of generalized UPPs.eg.BZ and APA

UPP Review

There was a need for a diverse coverage of infrastructure projects besides the energy sector. UPPs could have been structured around transportation of and other social services related infrastructure.

Summary Commentary

Broad based UPPs but there is recognition of the central role economic revival in any turnaround strategy of the country. Building capacity and planning capabilities is a common foundation for the parties’ UPPs although this is manifested in different ways,MDC Alliance and Zanu (PF) are more explicit in their pronouncements. The others have outlined strategies that are part and parcel of the established mantra on economic revival .eg, cutting debt ,increasing revenue or on-going value addition in the mining sector.

UPP Review

More emphasis on articulating measurable unique ‘blue ocean –unoccupied points of differentiation could be outlined by the parties

ZIMAT 1: Multiple political parties: Are they really different?

screenshot of the zimbabwe manifesto analysis tool - 2018 version

ZIMAT 1: Multiple political parties: Are they really different?

July 10th, 2018

Words by Tendai Murisa

6 min read

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Politics and Public Policy

The forthcoming general elections scheduled for July 30 are literally three weeks away, but public discourse remains focused on the referee, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the rules of the game. There is limited attention on the political parties (teams) that are vying for public office. We risk having a perfect election in terms of observing the rules, but with limited knowledge on who among the political parties has the best ideas to take the country forward. We (SIVIO) developed the Zimbabwe manifestos analysis tool (ZIMAT), as part of an effort to steer public debate towards an objective appraisal of what each political party stands for.

Zimat is an online-based tool that compares political party manifestos in terms of the extent to which the pledges that they make are practical and can be implemented within the five years if voted into office.

A manifesto is a “statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer”. We note from the beginning that there is an inconclusive debate on the utility of these documents.

Questions being raised include:

  • Do citizens read them;
  • In the case that they do, to what extent do they play a role in influencing their voting decisions; and
  • Are political parties sincere about the ideas they present or it is just a way of getting voted into office and then forget about the commitments they made.

In May and June, we ran an online-based survey on voting decision-making. We were interested in finding out how voters settle on a leader of their choice, at council, constituency or presidential level. We found that there is a significant (42,11%) portion that reads and compares manifestos. Furthermore, findings from an earlier survey carried out in February found out that citizens expect officeholders to address specific public problems, ranging from under-performance of the economy, collapsing social service delivery through to corruption. The analysis of manifestos provides probably the best way of methodically examining if the political party is responding to the needs of citizens. It is also a more reliable unit of analysis, especially when we want to compare political parties.

We had to find common ground to create a reasonable comparative framework. We went back to the surveys we had done in the past and looked for things that citizens cared for the most. We identified nine issue-clusters. We then catalogued all the promises made within the manifesto into the nine clusters. Each promise analysed had the potential of scoring a total of six points, and thus the score of each promise was the weighting or, as we would have called it, the Sivio score. The Sivio score measures each promise on its own merits and the scores are aggregated initially per cluster, as well as overall. The manifestos contained varying numbers of promises ranging from 80 to 484. Our framework’s scoring is based on a perfect of six multiplied by the number of promises made. We then use the actual score per promise and divide that with the perfect score and multiply by 100 to get the Sivio score. The table below provides a summary of the pledges made by each political party across the nine clusters.

This data is also important for one to be able to appreciate the priority areas for each party. Though the Sivio score can weigh the quality of promises in the sectors, one may also want to know which areas the parties are focussing on. It must be noted that many promises do not fit neatly in a single category, thus they were placed in the best possible fit. Though the analysis provides a substantive glimpse into the ideas of each political party, it cannot substitute a full reading of the manifesto document, and the promises therein.

Preliminary analysis

The manifestos vary in terms of their lengths and the manner in which they are organised.

The majority, except for Nkosana Moyo’s Apa, are voluminous (+/-200 people), making one wonder if they are intended for the general public. The language used is mostly technical expert-based jargon, which may be alienating to the majority of the readers. We found it interesting that Zanu PF did not make any pledges towards improving political and civil rights — an issue they have been criticised for over the years. We also found it odd that the MDC Alliance’s campaign, commonly referred to as Generation Consensus, does not have a single pledge towards the youth. Nkosana Moyo’s APA does not make any commitments to the youth and also does not feature gender in the programme of action.

We also sought to determine the extent to which the actual pledges contained in a manifesto were realisable given the context of scarcity, limited timeframe and other competing interests. Using this consideration, we found that the political parties with fewer promises scored higher compared to those with a lot of promises.

APA and Thokozani Khupe’s MDC scored higher on the realisable pledges, compared to Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance, whose manifestos have more than 300 promises each. Our tool is an analytic comparative framework influenced by strategy literature. We settled on the Smaart framework. We might as well add that we developed our framework well before the MDC Alliance launched its manifesto. The framework measures the extent to which each promise made is specific, measurable, achievable, affordable and timebound (Smaart).

New consensus

There is a new consensus in town: Market-based development. Each political party has more than 50% of its pledges towards resolving challenges within the economy. While in the past, manifestos were used to provide an opportunity to articulate deep ideological beliefs, in this instance we do not see that.

As far as economic turn-around strategies are concerned, the parties seem to have been taught by the same economics professor, except for some miniscule nuances. All the parties identify the need for big infrastructure projects, which include the upgrading of power plants, airports and roads. The parties are also committed to the revamping of agri-businesses, completion of land tenure reforms, extending land under irrigation, renewable energy and revamping industry as top priorities.

All of them recognise the importance of mining. There is also commitment to reforms which will simplify and hopefully reduce the bottlenecks in doing business. It is important to note that Zimbabwe ranks 159th in the world and 29th in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of the ease of doing business.

However, and more critically, all of them are not clear on resource mobilisation to fulfill some of these lofty goals. The MDC Alliance, Zanu PF and to a limited extent, APA, are focussed on attracting investors from outside. APA and Zanu PF also realise the role of local resource mobilisation, although it reads like increasing the burden of taxes on the citizens. However, some of the measures do not require financial investments but revisiting the bureaucratic red-tape that slows down the rate at which new businesses can be established. To be sure these are political manifestos written by men and women out to win an election and, where necessary, they hit the right notes — all of them talk of financial inclusion — buzzwords in development circles, but fast losing meaning. More importantly, there is lack of detail on forecasted actual costs of the various initiatives proposed, yet this is central to establishing the impact of these initiatives on the budget deficit.

All manifestos, especially the Zanu PF one, are a total rejection of the heterodox model that was unevenly pursued under former president Robert Mugabe.

None of the parties make any reference to indigenisation, instead, the recommended reforms such as in mining are to do away with the constraints of local ownership. There is, in fact, a renewed embracing of market forces in a manner that does not totally recognise the devastating effects of structural adjustment — which gave birth to Zimbabwe’s crises.

Under Nkosana Moyo, for instance, state-owned enterprises will be turned around for eventual privatisation — again the benefits of such privatisation are assumed to be a public good. The Khupe-led MDC’s manifesto is the only one that goes into detail to make suggestions for a pro-poor, but is still a market-led economy. It attempts to ensure that small and medium enterprises, rural cooperatives and rural enterprises are part of the business compact.

Zanu PF is also not too far behind in thinking about formerly marginalised groups — they have repeatedly emphasised the importance of a women’s bank and, for some reason, it was launched before elections, maybe as an attempt to prove to naysayers that they take their commitments seriously. Build Zimbabwe Alliance and Khupe’s MDC suggest the setting up of a fund to support small-scale mining. All these measures of inclusion sound good, but risk relegating the locals into the periphery of the economy and, instead, leave the real economy in the hands of foreign direct investment players. There is no doubt that Zanu PF’s indigenisation policy was ill-conceived and served to line-up the interests of a very small politically-connected elite. That does not mean indigenisation is a wrong policy to pursue.

It seems Zanu PF’s fascination with the actual redistribution of land is incomplete — they are still committing to “broadening access to land by all Zimbabweans”. This by any measure is disconcerting — the redistribution of land has caused major upheaval and uncertainty in the economy and there is need to bring the whole process to a close. Other political parties are focussed on resolving the issue of compensation to former large-scale commercial farmers and resolving the land tenure question. On the other hand, APA — maybe without intending to sound like they want to reduce Agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) from around 11,23% to 5%. One hopes that what they are actually suggesting is to grow other sectors such as industry and services, which would reduce the contribution of agriculture to GDP.

Despite the similarities, we also noted unique positions adopted by political parties, which could be game changers in terms of attracting new voters.

Introducing the Zimbabwe Manifesto Analysis Tool (ZIMAT)

screenshot of the zimbabwe manifesto analysis tool - 2018 version

Introducing the Zimbabwe Manifesto Analysis Tool (ZIMAT)

June 8th, 2018

Words by Tendai Murisa

11 min read

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Politics and Public Policy

Introduction

At Sivio Institute, we are committed to promoting a broader understanding of democracy. The practice of democracy has often been misconstrued as synonymous to elections. At its basic level the idea of democracy is broader it includes the work that citizens do with each other and also with officeholders. Elections play an important role in the life of the republic - they contribute towards renewing leadership and provide an opportunity for citizens to make regular decisions on who should be representing them. However, we argue that elections are a necessary but not sufficient condition for democracy. Furthermore, we also hold to the ideal that the process of choosing representatives for political/public office should be viewed beyond limited focus of political rhetoric and be viewed as contest of ideas. In many instances the criteria on how officeholders are voted into office has not been adequately examined. As a way of extending the conversation on the role of elections, we carried out a survey on factors that influence how citizens vote. In that survey 42.1% confirmed that they read and compare the set of ideas presented by political parties through their manifestos. However 83% of the same sample also confirmed that they also make a decision on who to vote for based on the type of leader1. The responses to the survey provided motivation for us to consider promoting a broader discussion on political party manifesto to; (i) benefit those who want to engage with the manifestos and (ii) to hopefully contribute towards a new political culture that engages with the set of ideas presented by those vying for public office before voting. The discussion that follows provides a detailed description of the tool that we have just developed appropriately named the Zimbabwe Manifesto Analysis Tool (ZIMAT). We also believe that such an analysis provides scope to nurture a more informed citizenry. Research2 has shown that the more informed a citizen is the greater their agency is, and also the more they are able to exercise their democratic rights3. We believe that voters need to be informed about the values and proposals of the political contenders, as well as have a framework by which to hold them accountable should they then be elected.

The Process

In its simplistic form, a manifesto is a “statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer”. We note from the beginning that there is an inconclusive debate on the utility of these documents. Questions being raised include:

  1. Do citizens actually read them?
  2.  In the case that they do, to what extent do they play a role in influencing their voting decisions and
  3. Are political parties sincere about the ideas they present or it’s just way of getting voted into office and then forget about the commitments they made.

As already mentioned our survey on Voting Decision Making found that there is a significant cohort that reads and compares manifestos. Furthermore, findings from our February survey found that citizens expect officeholders to address specific public problems ranging from under-performance of the economy, collapsing social service delivery through to corruption. The analysis of Manifestos provides probably the best way of methodically examining if the political party is responding to the needs of citizens. It is also a more reliable unit of analysis especially when we want to compare political parties. The manifestos have been launched over a very long time. The first was launched on 27 January 2018 and the most recent was launched on 20 June 2018. We chose to analyse five political parties’ manifestos using a SMAART4 analysis framework. The framework measures the extent to which each promise made is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Affordable and Timebound. The table below explains each category of measure:

Category Definition
Specific Is the promise precise and well defined or is it vague, equivocating and intangible?)
Measurable Is the promise quantifiable or quantitatively measurable? Is there a clear way to observe and track success and progress?
Achievable Based on available resources and existing constraints, is the promise reachable or possible?
Affordable Can the promise be fulfilled purely on government funding, unless otherwise indicated? If otherwise indicated, can the said source of funding fully cover the costs? Is the proposed source of funding viable?
Realistic Can the promise realistically be achieved, given available resources and time frame. Unless directly stated, the time frame was limited to the 5-year term that would be afforded by election into office.
Timebound Is the promise limited to achievement within a specified period of time? Some Manifestos clearly stated at the top that they were for the 2018 – 2023, whilst others did not specify.

 

We had to find common ground to create a reasonable comparative framework. We went back to the surveys we had done in the past and looked for things that citizens cared for the most. We identified nine clusters. We then catalogued all the promises made within the manifesto into the nine clusters. Each promise analysed had the potential of scoring a total of 6 points, and thus the score of each promise was the weighting or as we would called it, the SIVIO Score. The Sivio Score measures each promise on its own merits and the scores are aggregated initially per cluster as well as overall. The manifestos contained varying numbers of promises ranging from 80 to 484. Our framework’s scoring is based on a perfect of six multiplied by the number of promises made. We then use the actual score per promises and divide that with the perfect score and multiply by 100 to get the SIVIO Score. For example the MDC Alliance scored 93.39% for their promises in the social sector because their overall SMAART score was 622 out of a possible score of 666 for the 111 promises they had made.

The tool also evaluates which sectors received more attention (i.e. had more promises) compared to the others, thus revealing the priority areas of each party. The percentage is weighed by dividing the number of promises per sector by the total number of promises made. For example, 67,23% of Zanu PF promises were in the Economic sector which accounted for 199 out of their 296 promises made. This data is also important for one to be able to appreciate the priority areas for each party. Though the Sivio Score is able to weigh the quality of promises in the sectors, one may also want to know which areas the parties are focussing on. It must be noted that many promises do not fit neatly in a single category, thus they were placed in the best possible fit. Though the analysis provides a substantive glimpse into the ideas of each political party, it cannot substitute a full reading of the manifesto document, and the promises therein.

We also measured the ideological leanings of each promise which are also aggregated both by sector and overall, to determine if the intentions of the party are more pro-poor, pro-market, a hybrid of the 2 or simply populist. For instance, the Thokozani Khupe led faction of the MDC-T’s social and economic promises were largely pro-poor, unlike Dr. Nkosana Moyo’s APA approach which was Hybrid and pro-market respectively. Again, it is also important to note that not all the promises would fit neatly into one type of ideology, thus the evaluators categorised them based on what would be the best fit, and not necessarily the only fit.

Populist: Acknowledging that the term populist has come to be associated with a negative form of politics and is often used in a pejorative sense, we used it in the original understanding. Merriam Webster defines populism as “a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people” whilst the Oxfords dictionary defines it as “characteristic of a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups”. This is not to argue that populism has not been used as a tool to manipulate the electorate, as that may still happen. As such promises to do with human rights guarantees and equality for women may have been classified as populist in this sense but could also neatly fit under pro-poor

Pro-poor and Pro-market: The other 3 ideological categories are related in that they all speak to the political economy of the promises. A pro-poor promise is one that is a direct effort to alleviate poverty, assist the financially disadvantaged and excluded and to some extent to redistribute resources to ensure access for those with no access. The provision of free basic education or free basic healthcare were common promises that are categorised as Pro-poor, as they are designed to ease the lives of the underprivileged in society. The pro-market approach on the other hand is the antithesis to this as it focusses on those with resources, creating opportunities for those with the means of production to effectively increase the processes of accumulation as well as to attract investment and business. Though the pro-market approach can ultimately benefit the poor, they would be collateral beneficiaries, and not the intended beneficiaries. The promise to “consolidate the financial sector” in the APA manifesto is one such example, as the end goal of this would be for better financing of companies. Economic trickle-down theory would argue that improving financing of banks would lead to the company’s expansion thus growing the economy growing, thus perhaps creating more jobs or increasing the governments taxable income thus resources for social services; and though these possible downstream benefits may eventually prove to be pro-poor, they are neither guaranteed nor the primary purpose of the policy.

Hybrid: The Hybrid category, is our creation. It embraces both the pro-poor and pro-market approaches by creating business opportunities for the sake of alleviating poverty. An example of the hybrid approach from the BZA manifesto is the promise to “Develop world class road and railway network by 2023”. This promise would benefit businesses as it would make transportation of goods cheaper as well as faster, but it also affords the poor a more affordable form of transportation thus they can travel cheaper as well as access markets (e.g. communal and small-scale farmers). The primary beneficiaries would be both the underprivileged as well as the businesses. Other promises such as the infrastructure projects proposed by the MDC-T are also classified as Hybrid, because though they will be creating business opportunities through more government tenders, but the primary intention of the policy is the creation of jobs through the projects, thus making it a hybrid proposition.

It is important to note, however, that the SIVIO score is not a definitive measure on which party is better - instead our focus is to consider how they score across the different clusters. We believe that voting citizens are bound to look at different things and one party may score high in one cluster and struggle in others. We also appreciate that the political parties; were not given notice that their manifestos would be subjected to such rigor. However, they should also know better they are seeking to govern and citizens deserve the right to pry open these parties and examine the set of ideas that they present. We are also interested in evaluating the ideas that are shaping the political discourse. By evaluating the quality of manifestos that the parties are producing and the promises they are making we are able to have a richer and hopefully more deliberative approach to the discussion of ideas. It has been said that people stick to political parties in the same way they are loyal to their football teams. If that is true it is unfortunate supporting a political party should ideally not just be an emotional act or blind loyalty instead it should be informed by thorough examination of previous performance, quality of promises being made, and the set of leaders being presented. We believe that our ZIMAT makes a significant contribution towards deepening analysis and hopefully improving the quality of voting decisions.

Considerations

In considering the results of the analysis, there were some interesting points worth noting. Zanu PF appears to have scored the lowest of all the parties, but its score suffered greatly from not limiting some of their promises to a particular timeframe. In planning, time limits are imperative because they allow for better measurement of delivery as well as the feasibility of a strategy. Though it is assumed, unless otherwise stated, that the promises made are to be achieved within a single term of office, the same assumption cannot be used in evaluation because that intention if not clearly specified  can be misinterpreted .On the other hand  the party could reasonably argue implementation was meant for a longer period on the assumption of re-election. While Zanu PF did not clearly articulate the time frames for some of its promises, the MDC-T avoided the confusion by stating clearly at the beginning of the manifesto that the proposed promises where for the 5-year term beginning 2018 and ending 2023.  This explicit declaration at the beginning allowed the MDC-T and the MDC Alliance room to only have to implicitly state a timeframe only when it was outside of the given period (e.g. 2030). APA clearly demarcated the promises by the time frame within which they were to be achieved – i.e. Short, Medium and Long term (1 year, 5 years and 10 years respectively) - and thus also scored highly.

The question of affordability also proved a challenging one. The definition limited the analysis to questioning whether the promise could be funded under the fiscus unless otherwise indicated. This meant we would question if the elected government could fund the promise/ project within the fiscus even using the proposed growth trajectories (e.g. the MDC Alliances proposed $100 Billion economy). Ultimately, some of the propositions such as “Upgrade the 10 district hospitals to world class standard” were viewed as unaffordable based on the capacity of government. Though it may be possible to achieve the world class hospitals with support from the private sector or through BOTs, unless stated as such the promise was weighed on the universal assumption that this would be supported by the fiscus.

This was further limited by the fact that each promise was weighed on its own merits and demerits. Though it was read in the context of the overall document, it was analysed on its own merits thus though some promises would individually be considered Affordable, Achievable and Realistic , but when aggregated the same might not be true. The MDC Alliance Manifesto is an example of this whereby the timely payment of pensions to war veterans including the veterans of the DRC war, could be considered affordable within the $100 billion economy, however when aggregated with all the other promises the whole manifesto may not be affordable or realistic. The major infrastructural developments as well as social security pay-outs would cripple the proposed savings plan to grow the economy to a $100 billion economy and/ or simply prove unaffordable.

Conclusion>

It must be said that overall all the political parties performed well and scored quite high. There were many similarities in the content and ideas being put forward by the different parties with the differences either being in implementation and or in being more expansive. In the effort to hold our elected officials accountable, an appreciation and understanding of their official positions and promises is essential. These manifestos also reflect the elevated level of discourse in Zimbabwean politics, that reflects thought and research in the proposals being put forward. However, in celebrating the high level of analytical thought we should also acknowledge that promises and manifestos are just proposals (marketing brochures), but it is always the implementation that counts. Though the thoughts and ideas put forward may be noble and invigorating, unless they are supported by political will and proper implementation they will only  remain as well crafted documents to be resuscitated in the next election. The 2018 Harmonised elections are fast approaching, and whoever will be taking office in the next administration will have a mammoth task ahead of them, and the hope is that all these ideas and thoughts will provide a guiding framework and find expression in the new government.

The citizens have both the privilege and obligation of deciding the course of the next 5 years in Zimbabwe. Withstanding other factors, the votes of the citizens will decide who takes office whilst their level of engagement in the governance process will determine how they govern for those 5 years. The practice of democracy does not end at the ballot box, but rather begins at that point for yet another 5-year cycle. ZIMAT is designed as a tool to encourage the citizens of Zimbabwe to continue to deliberate about which ideas as well as how ideas are shaping our democracy. We want to ensure they are more informed and better equipped to participate in developing the Zimbabwe they envision.

[1] Our questionnaire allowed for multiple responses.

[2]Citizen participation in decision-making: can one make a difference? C Fitzgerald, S McCarthy, et al. Journal of Decision Systems, 25:sup1, 248-260

[3] If Democracies Need Informed Voters, How Can They Thrive While Expanding Enfranchisement? Hochschild JL. Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy [Internet]. 2010;9 (2) :111-123.

[4] We might as well explain that we developed our analytical framework well before the MDC Alliance launched its manifesto which has the same acronym. Our acronym comes from the Strategy Literature and in there it has always been used to analyse Goals established by an entity and we found that it was a close approximation of measuring the promises made by political parties.

This Is How We Vote!

Pinky finger being dipped into a voting ink jar

This Is How We Vote!

June 15th, 2018

Words by Tendai Murisa

6 min read

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Introduction

In approximately six weeks, Zimbabweans go to the polls to vote for a President, Member of Parliament and Ward Councillor. Whilst recent poll surveys have focused on who is likely to win the elections, it remains unclear how voters actually come to make a decision on who to vote for. Is voting based on blind loyalty to the party one has voted for before? Others have indeed argued that citizens treat supporting a political party as the same as supporting a sporting team (like a football team), that is, their allegiance to the team (in this case the political party) has got nothing to do with performance-they are just loyal. One of the most notable trends among political parties vying for office in the forthcoming elections is an attempt to project themselves as ideas based, with the best solutions for Zimbabwe’s struggling economy and collapsing social service. However, it is not clear if the voting citizenry has been examining political parties to see who has the best ideas for the country’s turn around.

We therefore, saw the need to understand and explore how citizens use their five or minutes of fame during the casting of votes, asking ourselves how citizens arrive at a decision on who to vote for. We carried out an online survey which was distributed via our social media platforms, (Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter) and also over the instant chat platforms such as Whatsapp. A total sample of 284 responded to our survey, a sample considered representative of trends for a population of 5million votes with 95% confidence level and a 5% margin of error. The subsections below discuss  the findings of the survey.

Status of Respondents

The majority of the respondents, 79.93%, were registered to vote, and of those registered to vote, 68.15% have voted before whilst the 32% would be first time voters.

Fig. 1 Voting Status
Fig. 1 Voting Status

 

It is important to note that there has been a significant increase in the number of registered voters by almost 40%. There a is demographic dividend for all parties especially given that the youngest voter was born in the year 2000 and all they have know is the context of the multifaceted crises which has rocked Zimbabwe since the turn of the century.

 

Decision Making About Political Party to Vote For

We asked respondents to explain the process they use to arrive at a decision on who to vote for. The question allowed for multiple responses varying from, decision is based on the leader, reading and comparing manifestos, rallies, news and also advice received from friends and family. The majority (83.3%) of the respondents confirmed that they look at the qualities of the leader of the political party.

Zimbabwe 2018 presidential candidates
Zimbabwe 2018 presidential candidates - source

The survey’s findings on this point serve to reinforce the importance of strong and credible leadership but also the danger that in politics, people may follow a person based on his or her charisma instead of the set of ideas that the same leader is addressing. The second largest influence on voting decisions was identified as reading and comparing manifestos. Approximately 42.1% of the respondents confirmed that they read and compared manifestos. We do not have previous data to compare with but this finding suggests the need for politicians to pay attention to how they address issues and the strategies they promote within their manifestos. The launching of political party manifestos has been somewhat dramatic in terms of the actual event itself and also, the debates thereafter. There seems to be a significant interest amongst the readers to read these manifesto documents no matter how long they are. When asked if they had read a manifesto before, the majority (67.91%) confirmed that they had done so. Upon further interrogation on whether they are using the party’s manifesto to make decisions, 52.2% confirmed that they had read their preferred political party’s manifesto before arriving at a decision on how they are going to vote. There is also a significant size of respondents (47.8%) who have not read a political party’s manifesto.  Maybe it is also important to note that very few political parties have come up with popular versions of their manifestos. The documents that have so far been presented are very long and detailed and may be intimidating to others.

Figure 2 Factors that Affect Decision Making
Figure 2 Factors that Affect Decision Making

Issues to be addressed by political party manifestos

We asked respondents to identify issues the issues that they would want to see addressed by their preferred political party. The question allowed for multiple responses. The majority 94.04% identified Economic growth as an urgent issue that should be tackled followed by the creation of jobs.

Figure 3 Grievances Citizens Expect to be Addressed
Figure 3 Grievances Citizens Expect to be Addressed

The issues raised speak to the core challenges that the country is facing. There is a heightened expectation that the political party that wins the right to lead government should have the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the country. These expectations also resonate with the responses made in an earlier survey on the performance of the Transitional Government under President Mnangagwa. Citizens are still concerned about availability of cash (64.4%), jobs (73.3%), improved access to health (75.19%) improved access to education (62.96%) as they were back in February 2018.

Determination on who to Vote For

We decided against asking people who they were voting for but instead we were more interested in how people choose their leaders or political parties. We then asked the question if they had already decided on who they will vote for. Approximately 74.44% have made up their minds on who they will vote for whilst 25.56% indicated that they are yet to settle on who they will vote for. The proportion of undecided voters is quite high. It suggests that the final result will depend on how these undecided voters eventually vote. It also suggest that the field is still open for political parties to intensify their campaigns and woo these votes. It is also important to bear in mind that undecided voters will rarely be part of an election rally and thus there maybe need to find others ways of reaching out to them and address some of the issues they remain skeptical about.

Fig 4 Determination on who to Vote for
Fig 4 Determination on who to Vote for

Whilst it may be difficult to know who these undecided voters are, it maybe helpful to bear in mind that 1 out of every 4 registered voters has not made a decision on who whey will vote for. It is important to note the issues they have raised as pertinent such as the need for economic growth, increased availability of formal sector jobs. This cohort of voters is likely to be more analytical and sceptical and will not easily be swayed through campaign speeaches that do not clearly address issues of concern.

Confidence with the Electoral Process

We asked respondents if they are satisfied about the preparations being made to ensure that the elections are free and fair. The majority 72.49% are not convinced that the elections will be free and fair. Through a question that allowed for multiple response, we asked them why they think that the elections will not be free and fair. They cited many reasons as per figure below.

Figure 5 Confidence with the Electoral Process
Figure 5 Confidence with the Electoral Process

The majority 68.3% do not trust the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the agency responsible for running elections and there are some (56.79%) who feel there was need to carry out all outstanding electoral reforms before holding elections.

Conclusion

Zimbabwe is heading towards what looks like a destiny defining election. For the first time since independence Robert Gabriel Mugabe will not be the face of ZANU-PF and also for the first time since 2002, Morgan Tsvangirai will not be the face of the MDC. Both sides will be fielding new candidates. Our survey findings indicate that the electorate prioritizes the quality of the leader- we mostly have a line up of untested leaders, except maybe for the incumbent who has been in office for seven months.
However a dark cloud still hangs over these elections, with suspicions around the possibilities of rigging and meddling by the military, and the authorities at ZEC will need to carry out even more reforms to ensure that citizens trust their process. The respondents are also concerned about reports of the presence of military personel within the rural areas, while others are not convinced that the military will allow for a smooth transition if an opposition candidate was to win.

The choice of which party to vote for does not entirely depend on the leader. There is quite a significant number of respondents who have also indicated an interest in reading and comparing manifestos. They also compare notes with friends and family. Indeed there is increased chatter about political parties within social networking groups that are active on instant chat platforms.This is quite encouraging especially for us at SIVIO Institute, since we have been agitating for a mindset shift when it comes to making decisions on who to vote for. Instead of focusing on an individual’s attributes there is a need to move towards examining candidates on the basis of the set of ideas that they present. We hope to see more of this in the forthcoming elections and also into the future.

A Winning Formula: The First 100 Days in Office

zimbabwe flag

A Winning Formula: The First 100 Days in Office

November 25th, 2017

Words by Tendai Murisa

9 min read

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Politics and Public Policy

Dear President Mnangagwa,

Congratulations on your elevation to the office of President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. With the country facing such serious economic, political and social challenges, we not only wish you well but hope you be open to new ideas and solutions.

While you probably have your own road map for turning around Zimbabwe, we want to propose ideas based on research that we have carried out and covered in our book aptly titled ‘Beyond the Crises: Prospects for Zimbabwe’s Transformation.  While we have not worked within government, our extensive experience working in Africa, has taught us one or two important lessons about how to deal with social and economic change.

We have divided our letter into two sections- the first section discusses the principles and values you will need to consider embracing and the second section focuses mainly on sector specific recommendations.

The Zimbabwean people have suffered enough over the last decade that they need sustainable evidence based solutions, not just short lived and opportunistic reform.

As you appreciate, your elevation to power could be a watershed moment for the country at large. There is an opportunity to re-engage with the international community and tap into “goodwill” that has come with this political transition. Whilst this is important, this goodwill alone cannot be the cornerstone for Zimbabwe’s restoration to a prosperous nation. The decisions you take from your inauguration day will determine both the duration of the goodwill but the extent to which any ‘goodwill partners’ will be prepared provide support recovery programme.

We hope you will take these suggestions on board as you move forward.

Your decisions must be undergirded by principles and values of:

Inclusiveness

The events that led to your ascendancy to power are unprecedented in the country, but one thing that emerged from last week’s event is that there are two undisputable power blocks; the army and the citizens watching over you. The citizens have tasted victory and will not need persuasion to exercise their democratic right of removing you from power. The army may look like your friends for now but they also need reassurance that the sacrifice they made was worth it.

Inclusiveness and unity of purpose was demonstrated by the Zimbabwean citizens in their contribution to the process of bringing about the change that has brought us to this potential dawn of a new era and it would not only be progressive but unifying for you to recognize this gesture as you go about setting your agenda for the nation.

Now is the time for a transitional government of national unity that is inclusive of all major political parties and even technocrats from the private sector and civil society. There is a zeitgeist around turning around the economy and creating a new set of political values and this will depend a lot on your choice of cabinet members. We recognize that you are probably already under immense pressure from your own party and maybe tempted to use your predecessor’s patronage tactics. While this may work in the short term, it could be your undoing in the long run. Zimbabwe needs a new kind of leadership that embraces differences as a sign of strength and allows for diversity of thought. You do not need “Yes men (or women)” but instead an inclusive structure that demonstrates the diversity of Zimbabwe.

If, however you and ZANU (PF) make the decision to go it alone as the ruling party then remember, the constitution dictates that elections must be held within seven months. This will mean you will have to juggle the pressures of rescuing an economy and political campaigning.  Instead, if you choose the transitional GNU route, the country can focus on rebuilding hope, and confidence in the economy of our country, ultimately paving the way for an environment that sets a better foundation for any future democratic electoral process.

Respect for Democratic Principles and Human Rights

Zimbabweans have tasted victory and will not allow you or anyone else to trample on their rights. The country belongs to all of us and your role is to ensure exactly that.  As a lawyer, you do not need reminding that power rests with the people and they have delegated authority to you to govern, but if at any point you violate that trust, they will withdraw their authority. You have one choice sir as expressed in your speech …to serve the people of Zimbabwe.

In your homecoming speech, you spoke of a new democratic order which we all applauded and hope is not political grandstanding. The country had sunk to new lows and the level of fear and paranoia is not constructive. Mr. President; people being arrested for booing the first lady or retweeting that Mugabe is old- that nonsense must end now.

Instead, Zimbabweans need the assurance from your office that they have a right to speak their minds, have the freedom of association and be allowed to raise some tough questions to office holders without the fear of reprisals. Whilst yours’ sir is the highest office in the land, it purpose is to serve every citizen.

High Levels of Accountability

The occupation of political office has since independence been associated with the accumulation of unexplainable riches to an extent that there is huge loathing of government elites amongst the citizens. Many citizens would like to see an end to corruption and this Mr. President could be your moment to shine. It is an unenviable task given the fact that you may have to arrest some of your colleagues in government but we urge that you find ways of increasing the cost of corruption and fast-tracking corruption related cases.  Corruption has been a cancer that is sucking life out of our country and the quicker you act, the more confident we will be of your leadership. The rest of the world is watching you Mr. President to see if you will indeed be tough on corruption. Why not borrow a leaf from the anti-corruption measures being implemented in Nigeria and in Tanzania?

Accessibility

Zimbabweans need a leader who is accessible and part of their everyday lives.  They have had enough of aloof elites that live behind layers of security and only seen on TV living a life of luxury.

Please consider joining social media platforms to better communicate with the younger generation as well as being prepared to engage them actively in live and face to face forums.  Let them know you are listening to their opinions, reassure them that their voice matters and there are public forum for them contribute to the debates and decision making process.

Live within your means

Mr. President we do not need to you remind that the country is broke. We urge that you keep a tight lead on government spending. No new cars please- use what your predecessor used. Keep cabinet small as well- do not buy them new cars even though portfolios have changed. Please limit foreign travel- we need you on the ground resolving issues.

Here are the sector specific recommendations for your first 100 days:

Cash Shortages

Please give Zimbabweans an early Christmas present. One of the most painful images about our country is of people sleeping in the cold in front of a bank waiting for a cash. Yes running a country maybe tough but this is a new low. As you already know we have three effective currencies; RTGS, Bond Notes and the real US dollar. The RTGS (just figures in the bank) is the weakest of the three and that’s what many have.  Your ascendancy into office has seen some realignment in terms of the rates and even activities on the ZSE, suggesting that maybe the market has some confidence in you.  Please don’t waste that confidence, put together some of our best minds around this issue and ensure its resolved by Christmas. Your ‘fellow Zimbabweans’ cannot continue like this. We cannot prescribe the solution but please make sure that whatever you prioritize this matter is resolved as soon as possible.

Creation of Jobs

Unemployment in our country is a big problem and will need some bold decisions. Infrastructure projects such as the building of roads tend to increase the number of jobs in the market. Industrialists have also for long been calling for a facility to help resuscitate industry. It is in this regard that we urge you to have the right people heading Finance and Economic Development, Industry and Foreign Affairs portfolios. We cannot just assume that direct foreign investment (FDI) is going to be the panacea for all our economic problems-that is such a 1980s framework which does not recognize the changing context of the global economy. You and your team will have to identify strategies of creating jobs and where possible promote Zimbabwe enterprises by ensuring that they have access to adequate financing and removing of the bureaucratic hurdles that hamper entrepreneurship, especially for young graduates.

Key Drivers of the Economy: Agriculture and Mining

We suppose that you do not need further convincing about the role of agriculture and mining in terms of driving economic growth but instead we identify some of the issues that need your urgent attention:

Agriculture: Resolve Land and Agrarian Reform Issues

Please carry out a public land audit (your predecessor had a penchant for sitting on reports that he was not comfortable with). We urge that you make a call for all those with multiple farms to voluntarily surrender them to government and retain one. The land audit should be done by an independent auditing firm.

Priority should be given to resolve the outstanding land tenure issues in fast track farms. We have not seen substantial investments by the private sector into agriculture mainly because of the lack of clarity on tenure. Government will have to finalize consultations with the financial services sector and reach consensus on the most viable form of tenue. Government must also consider deracializing land ownership, white and black Zimbabweans deserve the same economic opportunities and both should be able to apply for A2 farms. Finally, the government should continue the Agriculture Subsidy Program (please find another name for it- command sounds very Soviet Unionish)

Mining

Whilst Zimbabwe is richly endowed with high value minerals of all kinds the benefits thereof has not been widely shared. Your government will have to address the following

  • Agree on a financial model which ensures that the revenues accrued from mining are utilized in Zimbabwe. Why not explore Norway’s sovereign wealth fund as a potential model?
  • Aggressively pursue mineral beneficiation to unlock value from our mineral base and create jobs in the mining value chain. Admittedly the old ZANU had this as part of the plan but as you are aware there was slow pace on the implementation. Your task will be made easier if you created a unit within your office responsible for monitoring implementation.
  • Address illicit financial flows- the different studies that we have seen have shown that the current multinational dominated mining sector is designed in such a way to allow for the illicit movement of finances from the continent through trade mispricing, tax evasion and avoidance. We need an urgent commission to plug the holes of illicit financial flows.

Social Service Delivery

This is where we do not envy you Mr. President!

Zimbabwe, once a country with some of the best social indicators in Africa, has seen a sharp increase in child and maternal mortality.  Diseases like typhoid and cholera have become endemic, and poor water quality and sanitation remain looming public health crises. Our education standards, once the pride of the continent, have fallen drastically. Struggling parents have borne the burden of keeping their children in school and often failing to get them beyond primary education.

Our social service delivery regime has all but literally collapsed and ordinary people are paying the price.  That is why it is critical that the political arm of Government, especially Ministers and members of the Executive, “live within your means’.

By curtailing government overhead expenditure around new cars and avoiding unnecessary expenses, you could have some real money to plug the holes. We also urge you to personally champion dialogue between government, multi-lateral aid agencies (especially the UN family), bi-laterals and private philanthropy.

Local Government and Service Delivery

This is literally the lowest hanging fruit for your government. There is need for a radical change in the approach and attitude of both central government and local authorities to stop abusing their power. Issues related to local government space are being played out in a purely partisan grand standing way that represent the political divide between the ruling party (represented by the Minister) and the opposition who by and large control the local councils.

There is room for these authorities to improve on service delivery- their collection of rates improved significantly from 2009 but for too long, their priority was paying themselves. Some of the highest paid public officers are now in local authorities.

You need to read the riot act, even fire some incompetent officers and demand improvements in the following areas:

  • Annual Audits of Council Finances
  • Waste collection
  • Water supply
  • Maintenance of roads
  • Improving rolling out of serviced stands for those on the housing waiting list
Foreign Policy-Re: Engagement and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

The point has been made- Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and land has been redistributed. It’s time to move on. We would urge that your Presidency is characterized by re-engagement with former foes based on principles and one of them being that there will be no going back on land reform.  This is an important step that cannot be undone.

We would urge your government to consider compensation of former farm owners and where possible accommodate new farmers on the newly resized farms. There are already indications that some in the international community are ready to re-engage but they will need you to demonstrate leadership on the following:

  • A commitment to a road map on elections
  • Respect for human rights
  • Clarity on indigenization policies and property rights

While reengagement with international partners will be important, the road map ultimately must be determined by the best interests of the country and its people.

We hope you will listen to the many Zimbabweans, here and abroad, who are eager to re-engage in the country and solve the challenges we face.  As outlined, we believe that if you start by upholding the key values outlined above, and focus on the immediate priorities laid out, you will do a great service to the country in this period of transition.

 

Prospects for Political Mobilization in Present-Day Zimbabwe

Prospects for Political Mobilization in Present-Day Zimbabwe

July 9th, 2017

Words by Tendai Murisa

quick read

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Politics

There is an urgent need to embark on a comprehensive analysis of what one may call political behavior in Zimbabwe. given the recent developments in both the MDC and ZANU PF parties, the question is- what is the future of Zimbabwean politics? Should we still remain beholden to charismatic/messianic politics based on the gifted orator or do we need to think in other terms? Is there room for a new kind of politics- that is grounded within the current socio-economic realities of Zimbabwe and also based on citizenship and class?

File Size: 82kb
Date: 2016
Author: Tendai Murisa

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