SITTING outside a restaurant overlooking the immaculate greenery of Royal Harare Golf Club, the Zimbabwe Independent news crew can see a group of professional golfers going about their practice session under an azure sky.
By Tinashe Kairiza
A modestly dressed Nkosana Moyo, one of the 23 presidential election candidates, explains the broad economic reform agenda he will pursue if he wins the presidency, ahead of the country’s make-or-break polls set for July 30.
Moyo is not new to the workings of public administration. In 2001, he triggered waves of disbelief countrywide when he walked away from the prestigious post of cabinet minister. The then president, Robert Mugabe, had appointed him Industry and Trade minister because of his remarkable track record in the private sector.
Representing the Alliance for the People’s Agenda (Apa), Moyo is a decorated presidential candidates who successfully filed their nomination papers with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) last week Harare, with an unorthodox political style
As the battle to win the hearts and minds of the electorate gathers momentum, Moyo has abandoned the conventional methods of organising rallies (which he says are outdated and not effective), instead preferring to engage citizens through interactive meetings and walkabouts, as part of his strategy to dislodge Zanu PF from power. Zanu PF has been in power since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain after a protracted armed liberation struggle.
As he reclines in his chair, with arms resting on a wooden table, Moyo says his party’s manifesto, dubbed the “People’s Agenda,” is anchored on “diagnosing” the problems besetting the country’s fragile economy, before a cocktail of solutions are administered.
“Corruption,” he says with a deep sigh, has led to the systematic breakdown of the Zimbabwean economy on Zanu PF’s watch. The ruling party is fielding Emmerson Mnangagwa as its candidate in next month’s elections.
“In my opinion, what contributed to where we are fundamentally is centred on two issues. The first one is corruption.
“This country is corrupt to levels which are unbelievable. When you hear even a head of state question a number which goes even up to US$15 billion and look at a local operation in Marange and ask people to account for what actually happened to the proceeds, there is nothing. How is that possible?” Moyo asked.
A year before he was toppled in a coup last November, Mugabe claimed the country could have been prejudiced a staggering US$15 billion in potential diamond revenue, although the later told the Independent in March that figure was plucked from thin air. Honesty, Moyo says, will form the hallmark of his government (if he is elected as president) as he navigates the country’s fragile economy from the stormy waters of a huge external debt stock estimated at US$12 billion, cash shortages and a soaring unemployment rate estimated at 95% by the International Labour Organisation.
The current government, he quips, is fixated with shifting blame to colonialism without admitting its own misdeeds which have crippled the country’s economy, whose gross domestic product is estimated at US$15 billion, almost four decades after independence. He spoke about Apa’s manifesto, which was launched on Wednesday this week.
“The first thing we have to ask ourselves is: what is it that we did? Yes, it is true other people did other things, but what is it that we did when we were in charge to bring us where we are today? We are not accepting responsibility over what we have done, we keep outsourcing the blame to outside agents. So, for me, we need to be honest with ourselves as a starting point.
“But when you want to structure a solution, if you mis-diagnose the problem, the solution is not going to be the correct one. So as a starting point, we should ask ourselves: what is it that we did that got us where we are?” Moyo emphasises.
With a glint in his eye, the ex-African Development Bank (AfDB) vice-president expresses yet another fascinating perspective on the possibility of converging under the so-called Grand National Union, an all-inclusive coalition, in its bid to vote Mnangagwa out of power, barely eight months after he rose to power through a millitary coup.
In politics, he explains, “coalitions of opposing forces” are only necessary when the first round of an election fails to produce an outright winner and a run-off is inevitable. For now, he adds, Apa, under his leadership, will go it alone.
In Zimbabwe, a presidential candidate should garner a minimum of 50% plus one of the vote to form a government, in terms of the constitution.
“I think as Zimbabweans we are being lazy, and opposition parties are being dishonest. What is an election? An election is a choice between different programmes and leaders offering who they are in terms of their track record. So, I think citizens should be given the right to choose,” he says.
“In the event, however, that there is no outright winner, then, as anywhere else in the world, parties have to try and negotiate to say the population has not chosen any of these leaders. A coalition discusses what happens after the election, not before. The opposition should not pre-empt the ability of the citizens to choose.”
With a poise of distilled confidence that is sometimes misconstrued as arrogance, Moyo says his vast experience working for international finance institutions puts him in good stead to tackle Zimbabwe’s external debt headache, now over US$12 billion.
Moyo says he has a clean track record, acceptable to creditors, to drive his vision to plead for debt clemency, while pursuing structural reforms to shepherd the economy out of the woods. When Moyo is asked how he was unexpectedly appointed to serve as Industry and Trade minister by Mugabe, the Eisenhower Fellow peers into the sprawling golf course, where caddies can be spotted hobbling under the weight of clubs, before explaining that he quit public office out of frustration at Mugabe’s unwillingness to pursue policies that would lift millions of Zimbabweans out of poverty.
“I left because the way things were being done in government did not conform to how I believe things should be done. I would say that I told Mugabe I disagreed with the way we were going with formulating policies, the implementation and the fixation with politics.
“In my opinion, politics is sustained by the big economy. You cannot have sustainable politics in a country when the economy is not working. The economy supports politics. After resigning, I never met him (Mugabe) again.”
The former World Bank (WB) associate director says if elected, the immediate task that his government will attend to, would be to conduct a “baseline” survey to gauge the extent of Zimbabwe’s economic problems. After the survey, he adds, a raft of suitable solutions would then be implemented by “able” men and women across the Zimbabwean spectrum to drive the country forward.
“Let us talk about how important a baseline it.We need to establish, in exact detail, the amount of money that we have and the nature of our problems,” he says.
“My 100 days are going to be about primarily determining the baseline and where we are really starting from, because all your planning and the sequencing of your interventions depends on your clarity on what the baseline is.”
Apa pledges to reduce government wage bill to 35% and then to 8% of GDP by applying an equitable principle whereby the reduction burden will be borne by those capable if bearing it bringing about an envisaged savings of US$1,7 billion.
Introduce a two year budget cycle;
Conduct a national economic census; and
Continue the use of multi currencies leading to the gradual introduction of local currency.
To manage a national health insurance system through the Nati/onal Social Security Authority which will be sensitive to health care of citizens.
Raise productivity through the transferability of leasehold interests and conduct national land audit and correct imbalances.
Conduct a countrywide geological mapping and survey and create incentive to encourage in country benefication