With the elections set for July 30, there is a sense of change in the air but hopefully it is good change ahead. Most of the mainstream parties have released their manifestos and the next few editions will focus on the substance of those manifestos. For those who haven’t read them, don’t worry, I have done the work for you and will try to break down the top five manifestos in an objective sense.
By Paul Kaseke
I will flag the pros and cons of the manifestos on paper for each of the manifestos considered. I will also rate them in various categories culminating with an overall rating that considers different aspects.
So, which parties made it into my top five solely based on their manifestos? Well, that would be the following (in no particular order):
The MDC Alliance
The MDC T
The People’s Rainbow Coalition
To lighten things up a little, here are some awards that are befitting for the manifestos examined:
Most Colourful Manifesto: Zanu PF – whether this is a compliment is up to you. No further comments on this one.
Most inspiring and transformational manifestos: MDC Alliance and People Rainbow Coalition- after reading these two, one is left with such expectation for a brighter tomorrow for the country. For this category my basic guideline was to consider which manifestos would bring about rapid, necessary and developmental change with viable plans to achieve them.
Least Inspiring manifesto: MDC-T there really is not much to say here. On paper, it is the weakest when it comes to inspiring hope because it is out of touch with reality and doesn’t present novel solutions to problems facing the country. It’s the same old song playing, and, on this score, it gets this award.
Most parliament-dependant manifesto (in other words, if they don’t gain a majority in Parliament, most of their reforms will never see the light of day): Build Zimbabwe. Most of the reforms intended by the party require a huge majority in the National Assembly, especially because they intend to amend the Constitution which is a mammoth task in terms of required numbers. Without this support in Parliament, most of their plans will not materialise because they depend on gaining the majority in parliament
Most detailed manifestos: MDC Alliance takes the prize but following closely are Zanu-PF and the PRC. These parties took time to spell out how they intended to carry out their plans in a manner that showed they considered the implementation stage of their plans which indicates they have somewhere to start should they be elected tomorrow. Questions of how goals will be achieved are generally well dealt with by the three parties, but thumbs up to the MDC Alliance for quite literally detailing an entire revolution in minute detail.
Least detailed manifesto: MDC-T most of the points were bullet points that were hardly self-explanatory. The manifesto left a lot of questions unanswered on the practicality of its implementation and realisation.
Least original manifesto: MDC-T nothing new in it and everything seems like a repeat of the MDC’s original manifesto when it started. They didn’t really spend time making it relevant to 2018 and the problems Zimbabweans must deal with now.
The manifesto with little to offer in the first 100 days: MDC-T and Zanu-PF — this is because their plans have very little actionable content for the first 100 days. In the case of MDC-T, it’s because their plans are vague and in the case of Zanu-PF, it is because they have plans that cannot be actioned immediately within 100 days. They would need more time before their plans bear fruit
Lengthiest manifesto: MDC Alliance — the entire document is 106 pages
Shortest manifesto: MDC-T — it’s about 22 pages
Most-personality driven manifesto (a manifesto that has a disturbing deification and focus on an individual rather than ideas and the party itself): No surprise here, Zanu-PF which dedicated at least 10 pages of its 70-page manifesto with pictures of its presidential candidate and about four narrating his history.
Most proposed changes to the Constitution: Build Zimbabwe — the party intends on amending aspects related to land reform and intends on preventing ministers from simultaneously serving as members of Parliament as they believe this erodes the ability of the legislature to hold the Executive accountable. Lastly, they will need to amend the Constitution to remove the second deputy president position and changing the process of appointment of the Registrar-General and the chair of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Most relevant and people-driven manifestos: The PRC and MDC Alliance — for this category I considered which of the manifestos showed engagement with the everyday struggles of Zimbabweans and thus the immediate concerns to be addressed, if elected. The top two here showed they indeed engaged in an extensive consultative process to address even the seemingly minute concerns the average citizens have.
Now, for the overall ratings I considered practicality, possibility of the promises being realised, extent of details given, immediate problems identified, short term and long-term solutions. The integrity of the party candidates was not considered. This was simply an evaluation of what they promised to deliver on paper but as we all know, the real challenge is not coming up with policies, it is implementing them.
Let’s examine the manifestos in descending order
Number 5: MDC T for #ServantLeadership
The manifesto referred to as BEST (Building an Economy to Support Transformation) is premised on social democracy and the commitment to a “just, free and equal Zimbabwean society’. The MDC T promises to create a strong developmental state through decent jobs and remuneration, reindustrialisation, road transport services rejuvenation, infrastructure development, railway services rehabilitation, transformation of the mining sector, rebranding of the tourism sector, capital support to businesses, restoring normalcy to the financial sector, rural development and ICT use for both urban and rural populations.
They make some great promises such as digital storage of all government national documents, making ICT education compulsory by 2020, using ICT to combat crime and revamping the District Development Fund (DDF).
Healthwise, MDC-T promises free maternal health care while on the education front, it promises compulsory and subsidised primary education, a science lab in every secondary school and suitable facilities for the visually challenged. They also intend on implementing devolution which is required by the Constitution
Some standout / important considerations they bring to the table that others don’t, are improving conditions of correctional services, creating an environment that allows NGOs to function, feeding schemes for vulnerable children in schools and revitalisation of ZimAlloys and Ziscosteel (though Zanu has been talking about doing the same for some time).
On the down side, there is lack of detail as to how these objectives will be achieved. For example, one of their promises is to improve pass rates in schools but no explanation as to how government can play a role in that is provided. Without this, it’s a basic set of dreams to be achieved, but dreams without processes or plans for implementation remain just that — dreams.
Much more detail in terms of how they intended to address the problems at hand was required. Lastly, one of the most pressing issues facing the country is that of the liquidity crisis. MDC-T fails to specifically address this giving one the impression that they either have no solution to the problem or are detached from the reality facing the people they want to serve. This was a major downfall.
Watch out for the next edition as we dissect the printed promises of our politicians, it could sway your vote … just saying!
Paul Kaseke is a legal adviser, commentator, analyst and former law lecturer with the Wits Law School & Pearson Institute of Higher Education (formerly Midrand Graduate Institute). He serves as director and current group chair of AfriConsult Firm. He writes in his personal capacity. You can give him feedback via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @paulkasekesnr