DEFEATING the MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in the July 31 elections by hook or by crook may have been easy for President Robert Mugabe, but tough tasks lie ahead for the new Zanu PF government, amid a massive weight of expectation.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
Analysts say Mugabe has his work cut out for him.
The country has an unemployment rate of over 80%, industries are battling to remain afloat, infrastructure has decayed and corruption is endemic.
The government is also struggling to provide basic services such as health, education, water and electricity.
For the past four years, it was easy for Zanu PF to blame its partners in the outgoing Government of National Unity (GNU) for the mess.
But now Mugabe and Zanu PF face huge expectations alone, and these may not be easily met.
The 89-year-old leader promised in unambiguous terms both during the election campaign and after resoundingly winning 61% of the votes that he would increase salaries and allowances for war veterans, ex-detainees and the 230 000 civil servants and soldiers.
His new government which is expected to be formed soon — after Tsvangirai withdrew his Constitutional Court (ConCourt) petition challenging the election outcome — will therefore have to find the cash.
Economist, Godfrey Kanyenze said huge challenges lie ahead, with the time for empty promises and electioneering now over.
He said it was now time for a reality check, warning that there would not be any honeymoon for the new government.
“There is a crisis of expectation. Promises were made to the people and it is now payback time,” Kanyenze said.
“Poverty is endemic and there are massive debts overhanging of over US$10 billion that need to be addressed.”
He said while there was so much work to be done by the government, treasury coffers were empty, making it difficult to tackle the pressing socio-economic agenda.
Kanyenze said populist policies such as the recent directive to local authorities to cancel rates, levies, rentals and water debts and similar moves to do the same for electricity and other services, could backfire on service delivery.
“It’s tantamount to building castles in the air. The dragon will come crumbling on its fight,” he said.
Kanyenze said new institutions which would come into place after the adoption of the new Constitution, would provide funding headaches for the government.
The new Constitution created provincial councils as part of devolution, while the national assembly will now have 270 members after the introduction of an additional 60 “affirmative action” seats for women.
Two new commissions for Gender and National Peace and Reconciliation will be introduced, while a separate ConCourt was already operational.
“New institutional frameworks are coming against the background of limited domestic space,” said Kanyenze. “It is a tall order for the government, especially in the absence of sound economic policies.
It’s a minefield, with our present focus on sharing the small cake rather than growing it and increasing production.”
Political analyst, Gift Mambipiri said the important tasks for the government would be to steady the national development agenda from any negative developments that ordinarily arise out of changes in both political setups and ideologies.
He said the other challenges included growing the economy and arresting the massive and unsustainable migration of professionals into the region in search of decent jobs.
“It is a fact that ever since the election results started coming out, most people seriously looked at their passports as necessary qualifications to a better life,” said Mambipiri.
But he was doubtful that Zanu PF would deliver, considering that it was the same old party whose leadership, mentality and ideology has not changed over the past 33 years.
“To expect change from the same implementation matrix that failed you last time is as delusional as one could ever get,” said Mambipiri.
Gap between rich and poor too wide: analyst
Political analyst Gift Mambipiri said no country has ever grown where the gap between the rich and the poor has seriously widened mostly due to corruption.
He warned this could breed frustration and agitation among the people.
Mambipiri said there was need to face reality, that the country’s lofty economic policies were unfriendly to investors and were there for the exclusive benefit of “the rich party guys”.
He said factional fights in Zanu PF were likely to take centre stage, paralysing government operations.
“The succession drama that played out mainly in Manicaland early this year will be everywhere, and where people have no common loyalty around their leader, things fail terribly,” said Mambipiri.
Zanu PF should implement economic blueprints
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Japhet Moyo said while in the past the Zanu PF government has been producing good economic blueprints, these have not been implemented.
He said unless the elite in government changed their mentality and the way they do things, no meaningful transformation would be realised.
Moyo said creating employment and reviving industry, which is the backbone of the economy, was a big challenge for the new government.
“Priority should be creating more jobs. Once you do this and provide other services such as electricity, water, health, education and quality human resources, then the country functions normally,” he said. “You need to put more people on jobs, so that you get revenue in the form of taxes from those employed and corporates.”
Moyo said to increase revenue, the government needed to look at the issue of royalties charged on minerals and boost agricultural, as well as industrial productivity.
The MDC-T has said it would watch and see how Zanu PF —with a two thirds majority in Parliament — would do it alone, alleging that elections were rigged.
But Mugabe has promised to deliver on election promises expounded in the Zanu PF manifesto which focuses on indigenisation and economic empowerment.
The party in its manifesto said it would indigenise at least 51% of the shareholding of at least 1 138 foreign-owned companies.
It also promised to create 2,2 million jobs over the next five years by unlocking value from idle assets worth at least US$1,8 trillion of mineral claims or reserves.