Zim’s reform agenda — One year on

Source: Zim’s reform agenda — One year on | Herald (Opinion)

Lt-Gen (Rtd) Sibusiso B. Moyo Special Correspondent

It is one year since the election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the helm of the State. This marks an important milestone for a new administration which has made reform a key priority, seeking to sweep away the decades of misrule and mismanagement which had become so synonymous with Zimbabwe during the First Republic.

Much has changed but, of course, very significant challenges remain — prime amongst them, the fragility of our economy as it transitions towards the path of sustainable growth, further impacted, now, by the serious effect of drought-induced food insecurity and the lingering aftermath of Cyclone Idai.

Managing the combination of all this would prove daunting to any government, especially one such as ours which is pursuing a serious, far- reaching reform agenda without any form of budgetary or other financial support from those institutions which, traditionally, would underwrite such economic restructuring. We are doing it largely on the basis of our own resources.

And, of course, as His Excellency has repeatedly acknowledged, Government is acutely aware of the painful effect these austerity measures are having upon the already long-suffering people of Zimbabwe. But as His Excellency has also said, these measures are necessary to ensure the stabilisation of our economy and to put the nation back on a path of growth and development.

On the basis of sustained primary budget surpluses, resources are being directed to cushion, wherever possible, the most vulnerable and needy within our society from the impact of these admittedly harsh measures.

We all need to be patient: to be disciplined and to trust that reform agenda being implemented will deliver us all from the depths to which the previous administration — so detached from the people and so contaminated by avarice and corruption — had taken our beloved country.

As we celebrate the anniversary of the July 2018 election and its tragic aftermath, there will be those within opposition ranks and elsewhere who will seek to take advantage of our current economic hardships coupled with the emotion which, understandably such anniversaries tend to generate: and they will seek to add to the challenge confronting our nation by encouraging and promoting chaos on our streets.

Zimbabweans, of whichever political persuasion they are, should see through such obvious and cynical opportunism and simply refuse to be used as pawns by malcontents who, still, have no practical or workable vision of their own.

They oppose for the sake of opposition but their fractious immaturity and inconsistency offers little to our people and, frankly, is becoming tedious and somewhat threadbare both within Zimbabwe and amongst those beyond our shores who have supported them.

Government will not be deterred from pursuing the agreed reform agenda.

Already the political space is vastly freer and more open than ever it was under the first republic. The 2018 harmonised electoral process —observed by literally hundreds of observers both foreign and national — and the very closeness of outcome provide eloquent testimony to this new reality.

The economic reform process, meticulously articulated the two- year Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) is now well advanced. International by-in for the home-grown austerity for economic recovery blueprint led to the signature of Staff Monitored Program with the IMF — itself another key step towards arrears clearance and a return to “good standing” with the major financial institutions.

We are approaching the first anniversary of the launch of the TSP. Progress has been impressive. Fiscal targets have been met. Government expenditure has been brought under strict control. Basic fundamentals are healthier than at any time in the past two decades and have permitted the monetary policy and currency reform process leading to the re-introduction of our own Zimdollar sometime later this year or early 2020.

With regards to alignment of our laws with the 2013 Constitution and legislative reform more broadly, very significant progress has been made. In fact, we have targeted mid-2020 as the deadline by which that process should have been fully concluded.

Of course, with regard to the repeal and placement of controversial laws such as POSA and AIPPA, progress has been slower than anticipated, but we are getting there, and to those critics both within and beyond Zimbabwe who dismiss the successor legislation as being “cosmetic” in terms of reform, we are confident that the new laws, when passed by Parliament, will be fully aligned with the Constitution in respect of the public freedoms they ensure as well as the obligations they impose upon us all.

The first anniversary of the July 2018 election also raises the issue of the recommendations proffered by the various domestic and international election observer missions. Much work has been done by the inter-ministerial task force set up by His Excellency the President in terms of examining and testing the relevance and practicality of each and every recommendation, and assessing to what extent those recommendations can be accommodated and can improve the existing electoral law.

A comprehensive matrix of recommendations is now ready for submission to Cabinet, complete with indicative timeframes within which various agreed amendments to laws and related regulations must be completed. In the vast majority of cases those indicative timeframes fall within calendar year 2020.

We do not anticipate difficulty in meeting those targets, although capacity and resource constraints remain a challenge to the overall reform exercise.

August 1 also raises the issue of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry and the recommendations contained in the report submitted to Government in the closing days of 2018.

Again, much progress has been made. A process of national dialogue has been initiated by His Excellency the President. Granted, it is not yet fully inclusive but that is due to the obduracy and inflated sense of self-importance which those who remain aloof from that process have arrogated unto themselves.

Compensation is being paid to the families of those who tragically lost their lives in the violence occurred on August 1 and the January 14/15 this year. That process should be complete by the end of 2019.

Lt-Gen (Rtd) Sibusiso B. Moyo is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

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The ZRP has been undergoing retraining and capacitation in order to ensure that the civil authority is better able to manage any instance of public disorder or unrest which may occur in the future; and so that recourse to the military will be avoided. Part of that retraining has focused on human rights- related aspects of policing and law enforcement more generally, and has been well received and appreciated by all those involved.

In line with the Motlanthe Commission recommendation, the New Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA) is very clear in articulating the operational framework governing instances in which the military may be deployed in support of an overwhelmed civil authority (the Police), and requires that in any instance, the military will be placed under the control of that civil authority. The soldiers, in any such future instance, will operate under the command structure of the police.

Standard operating procedure and regulations concerning the deployment and use of progressively firmer control measures such as batons, rubber bullets, tearsmoke, water-hoses, and ultimately, live ammunition — according to the severity of any given situation — are being formulated as a strict operational guide to any units deployed in such circumstances.

Legal Principles for Independent Complaints Mechanism as per Section 210 of the Constitution have been drafted and will shortly be brought to Cabinet by the relevant minister.

Police and military investigations into the civilian deaths of August 1 and January 14/15 are ongoing.

In this regard the inter-ministerial task force established to look into recommendations made by the Election Observer Missions and the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry will make its own recommendations to the Cabinet.

Partial compensation to an eligible component of our former farmers has been paid and we believe we are nearing agreement with farmers’ representatives on a global compensation figure as per the previous in our Constitution.

It is very clear, therefore, that reform is ongoing and is progressing well.

This is reflected in the slow but steady progress we are making in our efforts to re-engage with those who, for a reason, chose to distance themselves from us, and indeed in their acknowledgement of those reforms. Of course, they would want to see faster and deeper reforms. We are moving at what we believe is a reasonable and responsible pace, given the far-reaching nature of the reforms being undertaken, and with regard to economic reform in particular, the painful effect of reform on our people.

His Excellency the President and his entire administration are fully committed to following through on all these reforms, on righting errors of the past, in fulfilling the aspirations of Vision 2030 and in fully normalising our relationship within the broad family of nations.

We earnestly thank those friends who have always stood with us.

It is our fervent hope that our friends in the West accept as genuine the single-minded commitment to reform of this administration, that they understand and acknowledge that such deep-rooted reform cannot be accomplished overnight, that sanctions and so-called targets are outdated impediments to the very reform process they want to see accelerated and that Zimbabwe is indeed deserving of their active support and engagement on this arduous journey of reform, recovery and renewal.

Lt-Gen (Rtd) Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade