THE Zanu PF election manifesto released on Friday last week appears to be a well-beaten path that offers the electorate no gold coins along way. It only serves to prove the ageless adage that every political party will forever remain wedded to polici
es that won it office in the first place.
Other than sounding like a scratched record stuck in a groove, the manifesto harps stridently on the party’s credentials as a liberation movement, claiming sole credit for bringing about national independence.
It also sounds like a wish-list for its litany of missed targets that the ruling party promised the electorate five years ago. It promises to make good these unfulfilled promises that the party blames squarely on the Blair-Bush Anglo-Saxon axis.
“Zimbabwe,” the party president says in his message to internationalise the nation’s crisis around a message of Pan-Africanism, “has been chosen as the battle ground for a concerted effort on the part of the West to push back the clock of the African revolution in Southern Africa to perpetuate white dominance. We dare not fall or fail millions of indigenous people of Southern Africa whose sovereignty stand gravely threatened.”
It glosses over evident failures such as the deterioration in service delivery in health, education, housing and other social amenities, the stubborn economic crisis which the ruling party has been tinkering with without much success, as well as the deterioration in the people’s standard of living in the past two decades. The party’s panacea for the current Zimbabwean crisis is the land reform programme.
In many instances, the manifesto has resorted to comparative statistics over a five-year period to embellish Zanu PF’s rate of success.
The 52-page pamphlet shows enrolment figures at primary schools doubled and tenfold in secondary schools but evidence on the ground shows the quality has deteriorated with some pupils reaching Grade Seven still semi-illiterate.
It is difficult though to reconcile tourism indicators which show that in 1999 just before the farm invasions 2,24 million people came to Zimbabwe earning the country US$201,6 million and in 2003 about 2,25 million tourist arrivals brought in a mere US$44,2 million while the figure of 1,27 million arrivals in 2004 brought in US$152,3 million.
Promising to improve the quality of life by reducing rural and urban poverty without quite saying why it has failed to do so over the past two decades and when the country’s gross domestic product has dipped significantly, the manifesto offers no more innovative plans than pinning hopes on an expected economic resurgence driven by “the vibrancy of the party and record of good delivery over the past 25 years”.
And the party president, Robert Mugabe, has cautioned candidates not to set unrealistic targets and putting timeframes to those targets. Success or failure of any endeavour can only be judged when targets are time-framed.
Mugabe knows only too well the dangers of time-framing targets from a welter of projects and programmes that have either missed their mark, remained fixated in the planning stage or gathered moss on the drawing boards. For instance, the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam supposed to have been completed in March 2002 after construction started seven years ago is still uncompleted.
The campaign booklet, hastily put together to meet a launch deadline, exhorts Zanu PF candidates to hammer on the success of the land redistribution and resettlement programme. Critics have often labelled the programme chaotic because it has been marred by intermittent waves of eviction to make way for party heavyweights. Genuinely land-short peasants still await resettlement almost a quarter of a century after independence.
Zanu PF says it will resettle 400 000 families in the next five years contradicting earlier pronouncements that the land reform programme has been concluded. So far the programme has managed to settle about 140 800 families under the A1 on 4,2 million hectares and 14 500 people on A2 farms covering 2,3 million hectares, prompting questions whether the party is set to create a landed aristocracy from among the ruling elite to replace the white commercial farmers violently evicted from their properties in the past five years.
Mugabe himself admits there has been “gomandisers” who have corruptly taken an unfair share of the land ahead of the landless. But his party has so far failed to resolve multiple-ownership for lack of commitment among its top leadership who themselves are beneficiaries. It is this kind of corruption that the electorate view with cynicism.
It projects an election battle to be fought on the premises of blame shifting for government’s failure to stamp out corruption “The Blair government remains the biggest impediment in this fight against corruption. It has granted refuge to corrupt individuals facing charges and will not repatriate them,” the manifesto says.
Failure to deliver adequate housing to the urban population is blamed on the opposition MDC for taking over most urban centres after what authors describe as “a freak performance in local government elections in 2002 when disaster struck with housing delivery coming to a standstill”.
The manifesto brags about the democratic nature of governance by Zanu PF that it benchmarks on the holding of free and fair elections whose standards rank second to none on the continent. But it omits telling the voter that the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the NGO Bill are unique in abridging the civil rights that should be enjoyed by everyone.