Political Transitions and Economic Policy-architecture in Zimbabwe: 2008-2018

19 Jan, 2020 - 00:01 0 Views
Political Transitions and Economic Policy-architecture in Zimbabwe: 2008-2018 Former president Robert Mugabe and President ED Mnangagwa

The Sunday News

Richard Mahomva

The birth of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009 influenced a wide range of debates on the democracy question in Zimbabwe. 

The formation of the GNU between Zanu-PF and MDC-T marked a significant transitional epoch which was never anticipated in Zimbabwe considering the long history of antagonism between Zanu-PF and the MDC formations. Chigora and  Guzura (2011) problematise the Zimbabwean GNU model as a source for wrong precedence in the promotion of democracy in Zimbabwe. 

This proposition is perceived as a negation of democracy as political elites forego elections outcomes to rectify political stalemates through power sharing arrangements. The fears raised by Chigora and Guzura (2011) on democratisation ignores the centrality of the economic policy-making dynamics involved in the transitional politics such as that of the GNU. This knowledge gap becomes more pronounced when one considers that it was during that period when the Economic Indigenisation and Empowerment Policy (EIEP) was aggressively implemented to challenge the opposition conceived Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP). 

The EIEP derived its power from the Economic Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (2007). The legislation offered a 51% mining and industrial ownership share for the black majority.

The ruling Zanu-PF repositioned its power and authority under the GNU of 2009-2013. This policy consolidated Zanu-PF’s power and made way for Zanu-PF to win the 2013 election.

After the 2013 election, Zanu-PF introduced the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset). This economic policy was grounded on a cluster based Plan. The policy purported to be initiated with a view to fully exploit the internal relationships and linkages that existed between the various facets of the economy. 

These clusters are were as follows:

– Food Security and Nutrition;

– Social Services and Poverty Eradication;

– Infrastructure and Utilities;

– Value Addition and Beneficiation.

Zim Asset also had two sub-clusters namely, Fiscal Reform Measures and Public Administration, Governance and Performance Management.

Mlambo (2010) gives an overview of elections, liberation movements and prospects for democracy in Southern Africa, paying attention to Zimbabwe. The “Zimbabwe crises” is analysed in a way to understand how its challenges have spilled over to other countries within the region. The studies by the duo, Mlambo (2010) and Raftopolous (2013) tally with Chigora and Guzura (2011) in articulating how Zanu-PF used the GNU to bolster its power and outwitted the opposition parties.

Raftopolous (2015) engages on land, Indigenisation and development in Zimbabwe under the vantage of Robert Mugabe as a key figure in making economic transfer of power a key feature of his rule. It was on this pretext that economic policies punctuated election life-cycles during the Mugabe era. While concept of radical economic power transfer is widely analysed using the prism of Mugabeism, Alois Mlambo (2010) offers a genealogical overview of economic nationalism in pre and post independent Zimbabwe casting his analysis across Africa. Mugabeism is believed to be a philosophy which championed black economic empowerment. This was resultant of the resolute land reform and indigenisation policies which were instituted by Robert Mugabe as a way of delinking Zimbabwe from the West following the strained relations between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. This trajectory re-organised Zanu-PF to a pro-black economic political party while the opposition advanced neo-liberal “property rights” protection politics. 

The “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra under the leadership of Emmerson Mnangagwa was the post-Mugabe policy shift. Claims of moving beyond Robert Mugabe’s anti-western rhetoric have been raised opening room for efforts to re-engage with the Western community namely the United Kingdom, United States of America and their allies (Zanu-PF Manifesto, 2018).

Prior to the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” policy position, Zim Asset was the most referenced winning manifesto for the ruling Zanu-PF to the 2013 harmonised elections. Some notions of similarities and differences can also be drawn from the GNU economic blueprint on indigenisation whilst Zim Asset gained traction afterwards.

Southall (2017) critically engages the November 2017 military-transition beyond the Zanu-PF factional wrangle. Southall (2017) posits that the “change” was also meant to facilitate a new economic takeover as state power comes with resource control. This shift in power is linked to how the military grabbed power to service neo-patrimonialism in Nigeria. On that background, there is need to question if Zimbabwe will find herself in the Nigerian neo-patrimonial position discussed by Ikpe (2000).

However, the fact that Zimbabwe had an election in 2018 gives a different perspective as the results of the elections give testimony to the fact that Zanu-PF still has support. The election substantiated that the country still has principles of democracy. The continuity of the Second Republic which was born out of the November transition and the 2018 election introduced the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) to be effected between 2018 and 2020. Ideally, TSP symbolises a policy shift aimed at the internal transformation of state institutions with an emphatic interest in reforming systems of governance. While the preceding policy positions were anchored on  distributionism, the new policy score of the TSP is to generate a private-sector led economy. It is on this basis that the pretext for the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra is founded. This follows the state-driven direction to attract foreign capital investment in Zimbabwe. The TSP spells out the Government’s projected aim of ushering Zimbabwe into a middle-class economy by 2030. 

The key objectives of the TSP are summarised as follows:

– Stabilising the macro-economy, and the financial sector;

– Introducing necessary policy, and institutional reforms, to transform to aprivate sector led economy and;

– Launching quick-wins to stimulate growth.

Vision 2030

The three key areas of the TSP’s reform interventions are aimed driving Zimbabwe towards the realisation of a shared national vision by 2030 aimed at re-orienting the systems of governance towards the rule of law. This position is founded on re-aligning the Second-Republic to values which were deemed as irrelevant the framing of the country’s erstwhile foreign policy perception management. Therefore, the newly espoused “Vision 2030” carries with itself values which seem to be more neo-liberal in character and speak of a transitional transformation which places individual liberties and a free market culture at the centre of the institution of governance. 

The envisaged aim of the TSP is to lay the foundation for “Vision 2030” to be characterised by the attainment of the following national goals: 

– Improved Governance and the Rule of Law.

– Re-orientation of the country towards Democracy.

– Upholding Freedoms of Expression and Association.

– Peace and National Unity.

– Respect for Human and Property Rights.

-Attainment of Responsive Public Institutions.

– Broad based Citizenry Participation in national and socio-economic development programmes.

– Political and Economic Re-engagement with the global community.

– Creation of a Competitive and Friendly Business Environment.

– Enhanced domestic and foreign investment.

– An aggressive fight against all forms of Corruption.

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