By Nick Mangwana
Zimbabwe has a new socio-political order. This has been dubbed the Second Republic, which is under the new dispensation. A new national policy is being crafted and hopefully will soon be unveiled. The challenge, which this policy is already having, is the casual dismissal it is experiencing from those who feel that it will suffer the fate of past policies such Zim-Asset and its predecessor. But things don’t need to be so. It is in everyone’s best interest that this policy be a success.
The policy, which will be rolled out, is going to be a plan of action based on the Zanu-PF Manifesto, its electoral promises and President Mnangagwa’s inaugural speech and the vision he articulated therein. This policy is going to influence and determine actions by the Government, its institutions and other stakeholders as well. This is the value system through which all public policy will be handled in Zimbabwe.
Thus the policy will be a way of breathing life into all the electioneering that happened in the past few months, which the people bought into. This policy will bring coherence in the actions of different Government departments and all other tiers of subordinate departments. Zanu-PF’s expressed intentions will be epitomised in this document, which will articulate some patterns of activity that will determine how to govern Zimbabwe in the next 12 years. Unlike Zim-Asset, this policy does not coincide with the electoral cycle, but straddles two elections because it’s based on a long term pragmatic vision.
The question of what is different between the incoming policy and the failure to deliver by the last policies is a legitimate one. The first difference is the power asymmetry brought about by devolution and the second is the whole reform agenda being pursued by President Mnangagwa and the attendant political will power. Our past policies have failed to perform, but we cannot afford to have the first policy of the Second Republic suffer the same fate. Every Zimbabwean needs to buckle up and row in the same direction.
There is a need to have a post-mortem on what made the translation and implementation of the last policies fail. From a partisan point of view, Zanu-PF cannot afford to have the implementation of Government policy failure if it is to get its grip on urban centres back. The standard and quality of services delivered to the Zimbabwean people simply has to improve. Zimbabweans face a lot of critical challenges with some of them immediate such as the cholera scourge while some are a bit longer term such as the currency shortages. To attain the desired goal, tough decisions have to be made, some of which have to leave a lot unhappy, but as long as it is for the common good, so be it.
What’s important to note is that primarily the policy, while encapsulating the President’s agenda, is framed by civil servants. It is the same civil servants who are the technocrats that will also implement the ruling party’s programmes. This is why there is a big need for a paradigm shift, and more is needed here. Social change is accelerated or inhibited in the civil service. The attitude and culture of our civil service is one factor, which will determine the success or failure of the implementation of the policy that is coming. The success of the Second Republic by and large hinges on the shoulders of highly skilled, but unelected public officials.
There should never be a situation where the civil service becomes an obstacle to the implementation of public policy formulated by elected officials. It should be a facilitator even in situations where this may go against their own personal ideological positioning. Nobody, including even the opposition, should ever be a barrier to policy implementation. The majority of people in the civil service are great professionals, but there are a few in there pursuing very narrow contrary political objectives detracting the attainment of the national agenda.
Internal contradictions in Zanu-PF were the bane of Zim-Asset. This is overtly absent from the Second Republic so the incoming policy should not suffer the same implementation failure. There is or should be political coherence and those who pull in a different direction should receive due counsel or simply ship out or be shipped out.
Every stakeholder including the citizens should support the Government’s initiatives. This includes those that support the opposition because failure of these initiatives means the loss of opportunities for everyone’s children and the loss of a generation for all of us. That is too steep a price to pay just for an “We told you so . . .”
The President has shown a firm resolve and serious commitment to change both the political and economic landscape of our country and should be fully supported by all those who love and wish well for Zimbabwe, at least until the next elections when they make their political choices. That seems to be a patriotic thing to do.
Everyone needs to be sensitised to that which is partisan and that which is national. We cannot only come together to face challenges such as the cholera issue and yet we don’t come together to ensure our country never faces the loss of its citizens through preventable conditions such as this one. Everyone should make sure we don’t come to this place again. And supporting national policies and programmes especially of a developmental nature can only do this.
The tolerance threshold for the malady of abuse of office has been so low that one sees a big shift in our political and bureaucratic culture. One of the major ruinations of policy implementation is the infliction of corruption. There should never be those who are conflicted or those whose interest is conflicted. What we want is the success of our country and the opening of opportunities for our children. When policies are actualised, Zimbabwe wins and we all win.
No matter how intentioned Government policy is, it has to be accompanied by a committed institutional reform. The reason why President Mnangagwa ended up setting a special corruption prosecution unit in his office was because other institutions within the State such as the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) did not have the policy delivery synchrony needed to achieve the desired outcome. This is a typical example of how policies fail if institutional constraints are placed in their way. The President has generated momentum and there is a tendency of some institutions to erode that momentum ending with policies experiencing a stillbirth.
Vision 2030 will only be achieved when the Government, its institutions, the corporations and all citizens of Zimbabwe show a commitment, coordination and cooperation towards its attainment. This is because we should never treat a policy implementation as a spot transaction, but something that is consistently sustained and aimed at living beyond a political cycle. This is part of the reason why this vision is not Vision 2023 when the next elections will be, but goes beyond.
When policies yield positive outcomes the dividend is enjoyed by everyone not just Zanu-PF members and supporters. Our democratic rules permit people to hold negative social opinions about their Government. But it’s stretching the rules a bit to deliberately generate negativity so as to try to undermine a policy that serves the best interests of the country.
The success of any government policy is the success of the country and that success resides in its politicians, its bureaucrats and more importantly in its citizens. We all have a role in making Zimbabwe a success.