via Zim-Asset in line with SDGs | The Herald October 6, 2015
World leaders met in the United States of America last week to refine and adopt the new UN-sponsored set of developmental goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were in effect from 2000 to 2015. Although critics say there was uneven implementation of the eight MDGs by topic, country and world regions, most of the targets were satisfactorily met across the globe.
Unlike the MDGs which only applied to developing countries, the expanded SDGs will apply uniformly to all countries. The idea is to ensure that all governments in different countries and their development partners are on the same page about global challenges that need urgent attention. A set of 17 SDGs was agreed on with a deadline for attainment set for 2030.
Among the set SDGs is ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, ending hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. SDGs also seek to ensure healthy lives and to promote the well-being for all at all ages.
Governments are also to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Also on the global priority list is the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
If all things were equal in Zimbabwe, the SDGs would be easily attainable. They are not unique to the already existing development plans in the nation. The UN has not invented any wheel and the targets are not in any way a tall order for Zimbabwe.
Under the visionary leadership of President Mugabe, Zimbabwe came up with a blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) which seeks to bring about sustainable economic empowerment and social transformation to the citizens of Zimbabwe.
Even the continental body, the African Union (AU) where President Mugabe is the incumbent Chairperson, in January this year adopted a continental development plan known as Agenda 2063 which is in tandem with the UN development priorities. Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, are already on the journey to end poverty and transform lives of the citizens.
Zim-Asset has a food security cluster that seeks to eradicate poverty in all its forms, end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Zimbabwe has gone some strides towards the attainment of this goal. Although a spate of droughts has threatened the achievement of this target, Government has worked hard to ensure that nobody dies of hunger.
President Mugabe himself has established a Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme that benefits smallholder farmers. This year, over 300 000 farmers are set to benefit from the $28 million inputs. The scheme has gone a long way in enhancing food security in the country.
The Government of Zimbabwe also embarked on the historic land reform programme that saw over 300 000 households benefiting. The land that was distributed to landless and marginalised Zimbabweans used to be controlled by a few whites. The land reform programme is in tandem with the SDGs 1, 2 and 10, which seek to end poverty, hunger and inequality between races.
The indigenisation and empowerment act also plays its role in empowering the citizens of Zimbabwe, though the act needs to be spruced up so that it attracts rather than scare away investors.
The UN Post 2015 Development Agenda aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all. Zimbabwe does not fall short in this regard. The country prides itself with a literacy rate of 99 percent, making it the highest in Africa. The Government introduced affirmative policies for women with a view to attaining gender equality.
For instance, the enrolment of female pupils and students in institutions of learning was increased.
In his speech during the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 28 September 2015, President Mugabe acknowledged the substance of gender equality that is also a key issue within the AU Agenda 2063.
“Gender equality and women empowerment are central to the achievement of human development, progress and the elimination of the scourge of poverty and deprivation,” said President Mugabe adding that the world must build on previous initiatives to empower women.
Despite the harsh economic situation prevailing, Zimbabwe is building schools in new settlements areas created by the land reform programme. The development partners such as UNICEF and others have also assisted with the provision of reading and other materials.
Zimbabwe has also enjoyed peace and stability since Independence in 1980. Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole are conscious of the link between development and peace. “The African Union welcomes the priorities you have proposed for they are in tandem with our own development plan, the Agenda 2063 which recognises the intrinsic and inextricable linkages between peace, security, development and the full realisation of human rights,” said President Mugabe.
Conflicts in some pockets of Africa will continue to encumber the creation of conducive environments for the attainment of the SDGs. Some of these conflicts are instigated by the West so as to create chaos and subsequently loot the natural resources of those countries. Such conflict-ridden countries have lean likelihood of attaining the SDGs. As President Mugabe said, the UN must ensure that the ‘big brothers’ respect the independence of other countries by not interfering in their internal affairs.
If the UN is sincere, it must make sure that all the impediments that impede the realization of the SDGs are removed. Zimbabwe has been under the illegal sanctions for more than a decade while the UN maitains its silence. How does the UN expect Zimbabwe to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all as stated in the SDG 8?
It will be a mammoth task for a country under siege to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation. Therefore, if Zimbabwe is to meet all the set targets, the illegal sanctions imposed on it must be removed in their totality.