Sunday, December 11, 2016

Zimbabwe Economic Revival Strategies to Dominate ZANU-PF Conference
Lovemore Ranga Mataire
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Zanu-PF’s 16th National People’s Conference roars into life in Masvingo this Tuesday amid expectations that the indaba will come up with binding resolutions on economic revival strategies, consolidation of unity and affirmation of President Mugabe as the party’s Presidential candidate for 2018.

Away from the distractive sideshow performed by Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central province in calling for the two Vice-Presidents to be elected instead of being appointed, the conference primarily focuses on reviewing party and Government performance in the implementation of its polices and articulating future remedies in line with the challenges that have arisen during the course of the year.

No genuine Zanu-PF delegate would be fooled to believe that the Mashonaland Central sideshow will ever find its way on to the agenda. After all, this is not an elective congress. It is only at congress that Zanu-PF renews its leadership in terms of the Presidium, Central Committee and the Politburo.

Key residual issues from the last conference held in Victoria Falls are likely to be part of the deliberations.

These include programmes implemented to unite the party supporters following the expulsions and suspensions of some leaders, creating grassroots structures, reviewing the party’s performance in all local government and parliamentary by-elections, reviewing the effectiveness of electronic membership cards and also operationalisation of the Chitepo Ideological College.

In other words, the Commissariat Department would have to account for the progress made in the party in ensuring that substantive leadership is in place in all the country’s provinces and whether members are fully aware of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s polling station-based voting system which was piloted in Marondera Central.

There is also the issue of ensuring that all voters are transferred to the new voters’ roll and that individual voters are aware of the polling station where their names appear, including the creation of party grassroots structures around each polling station.

In terms of rollout of the electronic card system, delegates would be keen to get an update on how the creation of an online party membership database has helped as a source of information required for effective decision-making by the leadership.

Of note, however, is the fact that the project has since been rolled out in all the country’s provinces. The effectiveness of the training of 30 youths in each province on the processing and production of electronic cards will also come under scrutiny.

There is also likelihood that the Chitepo Ideological College will be deliberated on, with attention being on its effectiveness in imparting ideological clarity to members, particularly those aspiring for positions within the party or Parliament.

The conference theme, “Moving with Zim-Asset in Peace and Unity”, is also indicative of a serious bias towards the economy. The promise of good rains this season will surely improve food security and the economic prospects of the country given the significant contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP.

Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy inasmuch as a large portion of Zimbabweans still derive their livelihood from agriculture and other related rural economic activities.

According to the latest Food and Agriculture report on Zimbabwe, agriculture provides employment and income for 60-70 percent of the population, supplies 60 percent of the raw materials required by the industrial sector and contributes 40 percent of total earnings.

Given the importance of the agricultural sector, discussions on the current crop season, particularly progress made in Command Agriculture, would be inevitable.

Command Agriculture has been widely and positively welcomed by farmers, most of whom had been struggling to fund their operations given successive years of drought and the general cash crunch that has further hampered their ability to secure inputs.

The programme has also received a seal of approval from several political and social commentators like John Mukumbo who said the $500 million command agricultural programme that aims to produce two million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land shows that Government has learnt a lot through successive droughts.

“The fact that the Government has put in place about US$500 million targeting to produce two million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land shows that the Government means business.

“The Command Agriculture will see the country having some green belts as irrigation schemes will be created and those that had been lying idle revived,” Mukumbo quipped.

According to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is spearheading the programme, the rationale behind Command Agriculture is to guarantee food security and ensure that money spent on importing grain is put into other critical sectors of the economy like mining and infrastructure development.

Indeed, as articulated by President Mugabe in his recent State of the Nation Address in Parliament, Government has so far imported over 300 00 metric tonnes of maize while about 200 000 metric tonnes have been delivered to Grain Marketing Board depots by farmers.

In that respect, the President said Government has introduced the Command Agriculture and Special Maize and Small Grains Production Programmes, targeting a minimum of two million tonnes of maize from both irrigable and dry land farms among A1, A2 and smallholder farmers.

It is important to note that while Government detractors are quick to pour scorn on the Zim-Asset blueprint, some of its objectives have been realised as in the case of the creation of 69 648 stands for the National Housing Delivery Programme.

Government is also working on availing land to formerly disadvantaged groups including youths and women in support of Youth and Women Empowerment and Development programmes.

The ruling Zanu-PF Government has also assigned the Urban Development Corporation to spearhead urban development in general and housing delivery in particular.

Zanu-PF needs to ensure it fixes the lethargic performance of the economy and mobilise its supporters to have unity of purpose. The squabbles between the so-called G40 and Lacoste do not augur well for a party with a solid history of ideological clarity and unity.

Conscious of the need for unity and mobilising both local and external support, the revolutionary party’s supporters outside the country, led by Cde Nick Mangwana, are also pushing for the recognition of Diaspora structures and creation of the Zanu-PF 11th province.

As part of their planned submissions to the Masvingo conference, Zanu-PF UK and Europe chapters urged the party to emulate other revolutionary parties in the region like Mozambique’s Frelimo which has outside provinces and Central Committee members based outside its borders.

“Recognising that the Diasporans won’t vote but will play a significant role by influencing their families who they look after at home where and who to vote for in 2018, therefore it is resolved that Zanu-PF should have the Diaspora as the 11th province in its constitution.

“Deeply convinced that Zanu-PF can easily be the only party supported by the Diaspora community, it is therefore resolved that some of the non-constituency MP slots be allocated to Diasporans who live outside Zimbabwe in order not only to represent the view of this constituency but also to enhance the international perspective in debating and legislation,” reads part of the resolutions.

Zanu-PF UK chairman Cde Nick Mangwana said the Diaspora province will not only consolidate party ideologies and support, but will also help build solid external resources.

It is without doubt that besides the conference being essentially an in-house review process, much focus will be on the economy, including explaining to the thousands of delegates how bond notes will improve the cash crunch.

The conference offers an opportunity for serious introspection given the many problems facing the nation. It surely can’t be business as usual.

The party needs to sincerely look at itself in the mirror and see where it needs to take urgent action for the betterment of the multitudes who support President Mugabe and the party.

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