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Mugabe to launch campaign today

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will today launch the Zanu PF manifesto at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, effectively signalling the official start of campaigns ahead of general elections slated for July 31 after the Constitutional Court ruling on appeal yesterday.

Report by Owen Gagare

The three main political parties, Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC, will slug it out in the short campaign period – which appears tailor-made for President Robert Mugabe who is battling with old age and ill-health — on the current political and socio-economic issues but with different choice of subjects and thrusts.

The Zanu PF election manifesto and campaign is based on the theme Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment, while MDC-T will campaign mainly on the platform of job creation and MDC on devolution of power.

Zanu PF has been pushing for well-connected locals to seize control of foreign-owned companies under its controversial 51%-49% ownership threshold which has left the party divided due to differences over interpretation and approach of the policy.

So far 59 community share ownership schemes and several employee share trusts have been launched countrywide under the controversial programme, which the party claims will empower previously marginalised communities despite rumblings of discontent over the process.

Zanu PF pushed through the enactment of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act in 2007 and started implementing it in 2010 despite resistance from the MDC formations which said the process was ill-advised and elitist.

The programme has however run into serious problems and has widened cracks within Zanu PF as one faction is demanding implementation of an equity model, while the other wants a sectoral and mixed approach, which includes supply side arrangements.

The programme has been tainted by allegations of corruption, patronage and bribery after a controversial deal worth US$1,7 billion, involving Zimplats (US$971 million), Mimosa (US$550m), Anglo-American (US$142m), Pretoria Portland Cement (US$27,8m) and Caledonia (US$30m).

Zanu PF leaders believe, indigenisation, combined with the land reform programme it embarked on from 2000, will deliver the victory it desperately needs for survival.

Recent opinion polls say Zanu PF has recovered since 2009 and might scrape through to victory even though it looks neck-and-neck with the MDC-T. The MDC and other smaller parties hold the balance.

The MDC-T campaign is built around its economic blue print Jobs Upliftment Investment Capital and the Environment (Juice) which has been modified into Agenda for Real Transformation (Art). The party is expected to launch its manifesto in Marondera on Sunday.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes the policy will create a million jobs by 2018 and says he is confident of victory as it battles to keep grand coalition talks alive.

Juice is driven by a number of policies, among them, creating sustainable jobs and small to medium enterprise (SME) development, entrepreneurship, formalising the informal sector, enhancing skills development, sector specific job creation potential, creating an enabling environment for inclusive economic participation and respect for property rights and the rule of law.

Upliftment and poverty reduction as well as the creation of a safer and more stable macroeconomic and financial system are part of the policies.

Zanu PF has scoffed at Juice, saying indigenisation and economic empowerment are more important than job creation.

However, MDC-T believes that as a direct result of Juice, it will create a million new jobs in the first five years of its rule, while the economy will grow at average rate of 8% per annum between 2013 and 2018.

The party says Juice will also result in macro-economic stability anchored by single digit inflation, deepening and strengthening the role of SMEs, domestic savings mobilisation, normalisation of Zimbabwe’s international relations, infrastructural development and a US$100 billion economy by 2040.

The MDC led by Welshman Ncube, which has launched its economic policy Access, Control, Transformation, Initiative, Organisation, New Technologies, Sustainability (Actions), focusing on harnessing the country’s vast natural and human resources for reconstruction, is basing its campaign on devolution of power.

The party believes access to resources, power and justice; control of destiny and welfare; transformation of communities and strengthening livelihoods of Zimbabweans; initiative for wealth, job creation and organisation of all public institutions to effectively deliver services, among other things, are the answer to the country’s economic problems.

Its policy framework proposes the reconstruction of the country into a developmental state, utilising the vibrant human capital and natural resource base.

After relatively succeeding in campaigning for devolution in the new constitution, the MDC has decided to push its campaign on that issue now resonating in other provinces, mainly Manicaland, besides Matabeleland and Midlands. The MDC will launch its manifesto on July 21 in Binga.

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