Govt in new major policy shift

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THE government will introduce a raft of changes to improve civil service efficiency, promote investment and ensure that parastatals and state enterprises perform, a senior government official has said.

By Wongai Zhangazha/Elias Mambo

Changes will also be introduced to the education curriculum following a massive outcry by a cross section of Zimbabweans over how former minister Lazarus Dokora implemented changes to the education system without adequate consultations.

In an interview on Wednesday, presidential spokesperson George Charamba said the changes that were going to take place in government were articulated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his inaugural speech.

“There will be quite some changes now that the President has appointed cabinet. The next thing that is going to happen is that the Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and Civil Service Commission chairperson Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwa will have to interpret those changes for a new appropriate bureaucratic set up,” Charamba said.

“In reducing cabinet we have lumped out quite a few functions under a few ministries, for example Trade was added to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so there is need to have to import new mindsets by way of personages and new skills to make that mission encompass.”

Charamba said issues that were of most important to Mnangagwa that needed to be fast-paced are the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway, resuscitation of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) and National Railways of Zimbabwe among other projects.

“We are going to see fast-paced implementation of infrastructural projects which are meant to enhance the competitiveness of this country. We are likely going to see the content of Cabinet decisions being given legal effect,” he said.

Charamba said government was in the process of amending the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to ensure that the 51-49% requirement only applies to natural resource-based investments.

In his budget statement yesterday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamsa said the policy would only apply in the exploitation of diamonds and platinum.

“It (the Act) promised empowerment to indigenes which it never delivered while scaring stiff investors who gave us their back. We were the net loser. Not a single person was empowered and not a single investor came. We behaved like we have rare earth minerals and forgot that though highly mineralised we don’t have deposits which change the world market,” Charamba said.

“We have platinum but we are ranked number three, our gold production is struggling to reach 27 tonnes a year. So we don’t rattle global markets but we rattle small investors. That is the reality to know that loud restless lips sink ships.”

Meanwhile, in an interview on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony of ministers by Mnangagwa on Monday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima said some aspects of the new education curriculum would be changed.

“I will first have an appreciation of what they have been doing in the ministry before coming up with a new direction,” Mavima said.

“The new curriculum is good in terms of content, but operational issues needed to be tackled…By and large, it’s a good curriculum which brings in issues of problem solving, critical thinking, developing entrepreneurship and above all it promotes patriotism.

“The implementation of the new curriculum, which began this year, will be reviewed with necessary adjustments being made…There are a number of areas, especially related to specific syllabi, that we have to look at. The budgeting of time is important; (that is) making sure specific tasks are meaningful in terms of providing a learning opportunity for the students.”

Educationists, teachers’ unions and ordinary Zimbabweans have been complaining that the new curriculum was introduced without enough consultations.

There have also been complaints that the government introduced the curriculum without providing enough resources, including books and other teaching material.

The new curriculum emphasises information communication technology but most government schools have no access to computers and other electronic gadgets.

Mnangagwa, who was sworn in as president on November 24, initially appointed Dokora as education minister, sparking a massive outcry from the public.

He was, however, dropped after Mnangagwa made changes to Cabinet because he had violated a constitutional provision which allows him to appoint a maximum of five ministers without parliamentary seats. Dokora does not have a parliamentary seat.

Besides the introduction of the new curriculum, Dokora fell out of favour with parents and teachers for introducing a raft of reforms which are not favourable to students.

In 2015, Dokora banned holiday and private lessons. He was also planning to introduce a single uniform for all schools and teachers.

He also caused uproar when he ordered school levies to be deposited into a government-controlled fund ostensibly to protect them from greedy school managers.

Dokora also came under fire for suggesting schools should consider taking goats and other livestock in place of school fees from hard-pressed parents. He also suggested that schools introduce closed-circuit television to monitor teachers in class.

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