ZIMBABWEANS from all walks of life face a formidable challenge in the next five years. They have to decide whether to support Zanu PF or the opposition.
The economy remains the single largest challenge that the government will face and any lack of wisdom in this sphere may have dire consequences. Unfortunately, not all of us can relocate to South Africa or Europe or any other part of the world.
Pressures of global recession are also presenting themselves in those countries, with rising unemployment in South Africa and other countries.
We cannot simply wish for the economy to collapse so that our political interests are advanced as this would be selfishness of the highest order.
We all have to work for the betterment of Zimbabwe — friend and foe, victor and vanquished. While it is tragic that Zanu PF won by such a wide margin, it will be immature to bury our heads in the sand and hope that when we finally pull our heads out of the sand things would have magically worked out for us.
It is thus essential to engage the new government and bring it to account for its policies.
Zanu PF has to move away from election mode and realise that it is governing Zimbabwe and not the party.
This requires them to embrace the opposition as a critical component of democracy.
The government has to move away from insane populist policies and focus on rational socioeconomic policies. They should put national interests ahead of party interests.
It is essential for Zanu PF to realise that the war ended in 1980.
I do not think any progressive Zimbabwean wishes the economy to collapse so that they gain political mileage because we all know that it is the ordinary Zimbabweans who will bear the brunt.
It is positive to hear that the government has produced a new economic blueprint named Zimpset (Zimbabwe Programme For Socio-economic Transformation).
I wonder, however, whether it is poverty of ideas or mere coincidence that the programme sounds like the 1996 government economic blueprint Zimprest (Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation).
Our previous experience with so-called new economic blueprints is that they are launched to much pomp and ceremony, but within months, they gather dust in some God forsaken civil servant’s office.
These blueprints, therefore, end up becoming mere public relations stunts. There should be an audit of government economic policies as the country has produced countless blueprints with little results.
Just to mention a few, we have had Growth With Equity, Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, the Zimbabwe Programme For Economic and Social Transformation, the Millenium Economic Recovery Plan, the National Economic Recovery Plan, the inclusive government’s Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) and the Medium-Term Plan and now we have Zimpset.
The only thing that seems to change is not the quality of the lives of Zimbabweans, but the acronyms and spellings of these fancy programmes.
Some of the positives in the blueprint include a framework for private public partnerships in infrastructural development, service delivery linkages with information communication technology and service delivery. However, very little consultation was done in producing this new blueprint and this could affect ownership and impact of the process.
The government has always been poor on policy implementation whether it was a Zanu PF-led government or indeed the inclusive government which missed most of its STERP targets.
It is, therefore, imperative that the government is brought to account for its economic policies and civil society is able to provide space for citizen engagement with the government.
Some of the laws due for debate in the august House include bills on consumer protection, private public partnerships, pensioners and mineral development.
There is a lot of positive input that can be made into such laws if legislators act maturely and there is consensus on laws that build social capital regardless of political affiliation.
Critically, opposition members of Parliament need to be robust in pushing for legislation enabling devolution of power through provincial councils as this is not on the current legislative agenda of Parliament .
The new government should build on and not destroy the efforts of Cabinet ministers such as Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and David Coltart, who between them made great strides in stabilising the economy engaging new investors for the iron and steel industry, securing funding for water projects and education.
Elton Mangoma did a sterling job in energy development together with some ministers such as Walter Mzembi, Sithembiso Nyoni and Francis Nhema.
The government should build on the gains made by these ministers and indeed other gains of the inclusive government such as constitutional reform.
The opposition parties have a role in ensuring legislative accountability and financial probity while civil society has a role in influencing policies, articulating concerns of grassroots communities, defending and promoting rights while bringing whoever is in the government to account. It is about principle rather than persons or parties.
Dumisani Nkomo is an activist and opinion leader