LAST week’s column looked at the Build Zimbabwe manifesto which I ranked third . This week we examine a fourth manifesto.
By Paul Kaseke
Number 2: People’s Rainbow Coalition
The coalition’s manifesto is summed up as the “Inclusive Developmental Agenda” (Idea) with the slogan, “The Freedom Train Has Arrived”.
The party wants to see the realisation of a “modern democratic developmental State” which honours past generations, provides for present generations while also securing the future. Idea as articulated by the party, will see the restoration of the rule of law and constitutionalism, correcting the “illegality” of the military takeover of government and deal with social and economic ills of poverty, unemployment and deindustrialisation.
The party will push for the completion of dams across the country. The party distinguishes between the regulation of water and provision of same which is currently done by the National Water Authority. PRC believes the supply of water should be handled by a different entity and another should regulate the usage of water for accountability.
PRC intends on creating a rural development bank and push for financial inclusion in rural areas. The party will push for a State Enterprise Corporate Governance Bill which will set strict standards for all state-owned enterprises and ensure better governance of these bodies to maximise their profit-making ability. The Chihambakwe Commission Report which detailed the atrocities of Gukurahundi in the 1980s, will be declassified and made public should the PRC come to power. The report was never made public because the Mugabe administration argued that the release of the report would incite more violence and divisions. PRC will also facilitate a reconciliation process which would include compensation for victims of the massacre.
The party intends to broadcast parliament proceedings on national television and ensure parity in government as required by the Constitution. 2,2% of the national revenue will go to a youth enterprise capital fund which young people can use to fund businesses. In addition to the fund, the party will also create a young leaders programme focussed on developing and grooming young leaders.
The party promises to engage Zimbabweans in the diaspora and remove tax on remittances.
A personal favourite of mine is that the party intends on pushing legislation that governs the conduct of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). To my knowledge, only one other party expressly states this but the importance of this reform cannot be downplayed since it is this lack of accountability and transparency that resulted in the institution being used as a tool of repression against political opponents and perceived enemies under the previous administration.
The party’s plans can be grouped into a seven-fold priority list: economic, social, public entities reform agenda, democratic and governance agenda, security sector, regional integration and economic diplomacy.
In terms of the immediate plans upon assuming office, a PRC government will, in terms of its manifesto, reduce Cabinet to ensure a balance of skills and experiences. There is, however, no specific indication of how they intend to do this given that the current structure of Cabinet flows from the Constitution. There is also no indication of how small a cabinet the party will push for, but the positions of deputy ministers and two vice-presidents seem to be secure under a PRC led government as no mention of the abolishment of these budget-consuming offices is made.
PRC commits to realisation of the principles of devolution as set out in the Constitution. The party will hold an investment conference to engage with potential investors whilst marketing the county and intends to re-join the Commonwealth (though Zanu-PF has already initiated this process). PRC will push for the repeal of the Indigenisation Act, Posa and Aippa. As a solution to the current cash crisis, the party will phase out bond notes, maintain the multi-currency, but join the Rand Monetary Union.
In terms of healthcare, the party promises free health care for the elderly, disadvantaged and the poor and the introduction of mobile health care vans in the rural areas while more permanent health care centres are established. In terms of education, basic education will be provided for free under a PRC-led government and this will also be the case for students who fall below a particular threshold at tertiary level. Other students who don’t meet that said threshold will be given access to long term loans. To correct the injustices of the past, judicial inquiries into missing persons and the controversial “disappearance” of $15 billion will be instituted. In as far as land reform is concerned, the party promises compensation for farmers in terms of the Constitution, the elimination of multiple farm ownership and the issuing of full title deeds for the land as security.
For purposes of eliminating corruption, specialist courts will be established, and members of the executive will be subjected to lifestyle audits while the Anti-Corruption Commission will be given leeway and support to fulfil its mandate without political interference .
Something interesting that the party promises, is the end of casualisation of labour which though beneficial for employers, is detrimental to employees who are left vulnerable and without adequate financial security.
Also of significance is the party’s commitment to gender parity and ending practices that leave women vulnerable. If elected, the party will seek amendments to inheritance laws that disadvantage women and ensure that women can, in their own capacity, have land registered in their name and if married, then alienation of the land cannot take place without the written consent of either of the spouses.
I was very impressed by the manifesto presented because it raised issues other parties ignored. The special focus on social security grants, missing persons inquiries, qualified free higher education, end of casualisation of labour, regulation of the CIO and the establishment of free wi-fi zones in public areas funded by the State is indeed refreshing and most admirable . The party is one of few parties that managed to deal with climate change and the environment in general as an area of concern. It also extensively covers the disabled who far too often are side-lined by most parties when it comes to policies. Beyond this, the party clearly articulates how it believes the funds for its programmes can be sourced without further burdening the tax payer. Any policy that sells dreams, but does not indicate how those dreams will be funded, is not worth its salt, but the research and or policy team at PRC was able to set these out convincingly which on paper, reveal the possibility of this manifesto becoming a lived reality.
The party outlines the protection of the judiciary as an issue to address but does not set out how it believes this can be done. The party further does not engage with the concept of access to justice and how the ordinary citizen will be empowered to gain access to the courts to facilitate greater protection of rights.
Lastly, while the party does identify reckless expenditure by government as a problem, it does not adequately deal with how it will reduce the costs by government. It merely addresses the concept of a leaner Cabinet but says very little about the government wage bill in general which is where the bulk of collected tax revenue is spent.
Notwithstanding these issues, this manifesto is definitely well researched and detailed. Regardless of the results, the incoming government can draw on some of the aspects raised in this policy… just saying!