The inclusive govt and politics of the belly

OUR country’s current political context as determined by the inclusive government is now characterised by the politics of default. 

Expediency and conservatism in the pursuit of political power has become the main reasons why the inclusive government exists.

This is not to say that it arguably did not have noble goals when its three principals signed the global political agreement in September 2008.

On the contrary, the flowery language of the preamble of the GPA, and some of its clauses point to an understanding of sorts that at least at its beginning, the inclusive government must be guided by some sort of fundamentals.

These fundamentals were of course determined by what the three political principals held or still hold dear.

It is generally a given that political leaders of all shades purport to desire a better life for those that they intend to lead.

And that their pursuit of power is with the intention of implementing what they consider their better plans to improve the lives of the people and the country in all of its political, socio-economic aspects.

This would also assumedly apply to the three political parties that are involved in the GPA and those in civil society that have been co-opted into supporting it unquestioningly.

They all agreed to a plan whether by default or with deliberate intent that is now the GPA and the inclusive government.

And as surely as they came up with the GPA plan, there are and have been others who have differed. The reasons for differing range from raw political ambition, articulation of ideological or political principles and in some instances just for the sake of it.

So as it is, it is safe to assume that in its existence the government is comprised of a group of political leaders that are convinced they have a particular plan to better the lives of Zimbabweans.

Whether they define their power arrangement as a necessary compromise, it remains a plan all the same.  Those that differ with them must obviously narrate an alternative that is both realistic and actionable in the immediate context as well as in the future.

Having said this it becomes necessary to examine the shortfalls of the inclusive government’s plan to improve the lives of Zimbabweans in comparison with that of those that differ.

The key component of the inclusive government plan is to address the economic and political crises through a strategy of stabilisation.

The political stabilisation is evidenced by the very agreement to form an inclusive government. More problematic has been the economic aspects of this stabilisation plan.

Stabilisation for the inclusive government has meant the liberalisation of the national economy primarily through dollarisation, embracement of IMF stipulations and seeking unmitigated foreign direct investment.

Finance minister Tendai Biti’s 2010 national budget is the clearest evidence yet to this and so too is President Robert Mugabe’s insistence that it was Zanu PF and not the MDC that introduced dollarisation.

What the plan does not explore are the key issues of affordability of these goods and services that seem to have returned to normal.

There is also no examination of the extremely important component of social welfare provision.

At best, the economic stabilisation element of the government’s plan is to pursue an unmitigated privatisation of the country’s economy and not address the problems of social and economic rehabilitation by ensuring affordability and availability of public services.  In other words, the government, contrary to some of its proclamations, intends to return to a “normalcy” similar to the period when structural adjustment was being implemented and never worked in the first place.

Secondly, it seeks to accentuate the politics of the belly in Zimbabwe. This is evidenced by the manner it continues to handle the diamond mines, the issue of local government, privileges of parliament and the likely privatisation of various parastatals.

The alternative to these politics of the belly would mean an active pursuit of the politics of social democratic transformation with the country’s wealth and human resources utilised for the benefit of all and not the few.

Those that differ with the government’s plan differ primarily on the basis of broadly outlined principles and values. These values ironically are found in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)’s National Working Peoples Convention (NWPC) which put forward a political agenda for the socio-economic transformation of the country.

This was to be embodied by the formation of a workers’ party (the MDC) which would purse social democratic policies in order to improve the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe.

The ZCTU, as far as I know, still holds true to these values. And in this it has the support of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu).

Where the NWPC values and resolutions differ with the plan of the inclusive government is to be found in the political as well as the economic spheres.

The political differences are to be found in provisions and values over the constitutional reform process.  The ZCTU, NCA and Zinasu have particularly disagreed with Article 6 of the GPA on the basis that it is too motivated by the pursuit of partisan political interests and therefore not people driven.

On the economic front, the NWPC resolutions make it patently clear that there are grounds of disagreement.

These areas would include issues concerning the overall economic policies of the government.

The sentiments of disappointment expressed by the secretary-general of the ZCTU Wellington Chibebe when minister Biti announced his budget in December last year are but one example of differences.

Another is the high cost of education which Zinasu has denounced and for which it continues to seek redress.

All of these are indicative of the truth that those that differ with the plan of the government have alternatives grounded in both history and political principles that as recently as 2008, have been emboldened in the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter.

It is imperative that the government’s plans for Zimbabwean society begin to be examined for what they are: promises that can and should be regularly challenged.

These challenges must be grounded in an understanding of history, the present context and a particularly possible future.

Those that differ with the inclusive government must take the issue beyond partisan or personal narratives.  They must ensure that all Zimbabwean citizens remain conscious of various alternative plans, for both the present and the future.

Takura Zhangazha can be contacted on kuurayiwa@gmail.com

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