By Vivid Gwede| The ruling party Zanu-PF’s manifesto and promises to turn around the economy have lost wheels and been overtaken by events as the economy deteriorates.
Following the disputed 2018 harmonised elections unfairly won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the manifestos of opposition parties have also been overtaken by events and put on the shelf, while waiting for the next opportunity to re-dust them.
The main alternative governing party, Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has restocked its arsenal of proposals on how to take the country out of the current miasma by launching the Road to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy (RELOAD) roadmap.
Mostly, RELOAD’s strategic pillars are in tandem with what ordinary people, international community and civil society have recommended namely: political dialogue, a national transitional mechanism, and a political and socioeconomic recovery implementation plan.
The MDC faces a genuine dilemma on how to pile political pressure on the government in order to lead to the next stage of the roadmap, which is real national political dialogue, mainly because of the recent brutal responses by the regime to civilian protests, which violence was subsequently, mischievously and cynically blamed on the opposition, ordinary people and civil society.
No doubt that all of the ruling party Zanu-PF’s proposals and mantras of how to build consensus in the country and turnaround the economy, like “New Dispensation”, “Open for Business” and “Transitional Stabilisation Programme” are increasingly losing gravitas.
Following the disputed 2018 elections and subsequent legitimacy questions, Mnangagwa inaugurated the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) and constituted the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) to save his credibility.
From the outset, the POLAD whose agenda was not clear and which looked like a project of political co-optation and containment rather than genuine political engagement of the opposition parties faltered.
The main parliamentary opposition, MDC boycotted on the basis that Mnangagwa could not impartially host the envisaged dialogue, whose agenda could involve the political illegitimacy question, because he was an interested party.
In fact, POLAD appeared like a cunning attempt to pre-empt and block real political dialogue rather than enable it, as well as a co-optation platform of smaller opposition entities around Mnangagwa’s patronage.
Furthermore, POLAD exhibited the historical problem that political dialogues in Zimbabwe have left out civil society and business, making them Faustian bargains without broader buy-in, which are narrowly meant to address power concerns among political gladiators rather than reviving the social contract in a far-reaching way.
As a result more than two months after the launch of POLAD and many meetings, the fundamental problematic political and socioeconomic questions in the country have not been resolved, if anything, they are getting worse.
Thus, the continued insistence and posturing by the ruling party establishment that it is committed to national dialogue remains a charade and disingenuous.
There have been concerns about how the PAC has been constituted with some analysts suggesting that the body is populated by people with conflict of interest in their business dealings to properly advise the President.
Thus the Zanu-PF economic turnaround plans having been overtaken by the rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the POLAD failing to kick-start meaningful dialogue and the PAC facing questions about its credibility, the Mnangagwa-led government is left with no credible proposition in place to inclusively take the country forward and arrest the economic decline and its fast-paced assault on people’s livelihoods.
The MDC’s RELOAD, while facing the problem of implementation in terms of how to exert political pressure on the regime, furnishes the political field with a roadmap to recovery worthy considering in the absence of the same from the ruling party.
Given that the opposition has made a proposition, it would be only logical for Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF to present to the country a credible roadmap towards solving the current problems, taking into account what the MDC has proposed in terms of political dialogue, instead of continuing with the sterile and stiff politics of “regime survival.”
The country needs a genuine multi-stakeholder political dialogue and a transitional mechanism to implement an agreed reform agenda with the scaffolding of the international community.
By continuing to grandstand that things are working in Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF exhibits either a contempt of the people’s plight, or complete lack of touch with reality.