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‘Dearth of political will retarding reform’

Wongai Zhangazha

CONSTITUTIONAL and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said the inclusive government had missed targets it set for itself for the cluster of Rights and Interests in the 2010 Government Work Programme (GWP) because of a lack of political will.

Speaking at a special Council of Ministers workshop on the 2011 GWP in Harare yesterday, Matinenga said the Rights and Interests cluster had performed dismally in 2010.

The cluster includes Justice and Legal Affairs; Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs; Media, Information and Publicity; Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation; and Foreign Affairs.

Among the highlights of the 2010 GWP were the setting up of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Human Rights Commission (HRC), the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Media Commission.

The Media, Information and Publicity ministry reported that it had managed to revamp the existing radio and television services transmission grid and was in the process of establishing new transmitter sites in Beitbridge, Plumtree and Mudzi.

However, the ministry failed to review media laws, which include the Broadcasting Services Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Media Practitioners’ Bill, which is still in progress.

Matinenga also criticized the slow pace in the amendment of the Public Order and Security Act which has been described by human rights activists as an insult to democracy. He blamed the lack of progress on lack of a culture of change in the government.

“The Rights and Interests cluster is supposed to perform in accordance with the Global Political Agreement. It is important to note that the various articles in the GPA are dependent on political consensus of the political parties who are signatories. For the targets to be achieved they must be governed by a culture of change,” said Matinenga.

“To be honest, I think we have not performed according to expectations. We have certain legislations and commissions but there has been an absence of movement.”

Although there was a media commission, HRC and ZEC, Matinenga said he was disappointed that these bodies were dysfunctional because there was no political will to support their existence.

“In the past week I had the fortune of being in Kenya and I enjoyed watching nine television stations and innumerable radio stations. There is no reason why we don’t enjoy the same in Zimbabwe. We should be able to listen to what we want and watch what we want.”

The security cluster consisting of the President’s Office, Defence ministry and the Home Affairs ministry was heavily criticised for failing to institute security sector reforms in accordance with the GPA.

The Finance ministry was one of the few success stories achieving a positive economic growth of 8,1% compared to the 2009 figure of 6,3%.

Agricultural output grew by 34% and a total of US$60 million was spent on vulnerable households under the government’s input support scheme.

The Lands and Rural Settlement ministry said in an effort to eliminate multiple farm ownership it had drafted A1 permit documents currently awaiting cabinet approval. The National Land Audit was still to be implemented by cabinet.

The Health ministry managed to reduce the overall unavailability of drugs and medicines from 52% to 43%. Shortfalls in vital drugs were reduced from 57% to 52% and essential drugs from 36% to 28%. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said inadequate human, financial and material resources, slow release of funds by Treasury and limited financial allocation hampered the government’s service delivery targets.

Tsvangirai said he was disturbed by the ongoing saga involving the whereabouts of Chiadzwa diamonds proceeds.

“Anyone clean on this matter should welcome an audit that unpacks the mystery as citizens cannot continue to wait while the leaders are bickering over process issues,” Tsvangirai said.

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