The government Zimbabwe’s Citizens Need

A message to Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

The determination not only of the Zimbabwean opposition but of all decent-minded citizens on removing Mugabe has, quite understandably, overshadowed all else.

But what happens after Mugabe is ousted?

Mugabe is the only leader Zimbabweans have known since colonialism ended (there was one previous president, but even then Mugabe held the real power). This means a change of leader will be something new to Zimbabweans.

One thing they need to be aware is that, in Africa’s post-colonial history, a change of government has almost always meant no more than one repressive regime replacing another. And, often, the new one has turned out to be worse than the old.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that Morgan Tsvangirai will be repressive (that’s if he is the successor – the USA and UK have taught us to be very cautious about forecasting election results). But Zimbabweans need to recognise the risk, and get assurances from him now before it’s too late.

The best assurance he can give that he will not follow the pattern of most African governments is to fully commit to Agenda 2063 and its accompanying First Ten-Year Implementation Plan 2014-2023. Because one of the aims of Agenda 2063 is:

“to ensure the full participation of African peoples in governance” – “An Africa whose development is people-driven”, and “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens”

If Zimbabweans were to hold the new government to account on this, the days of repressive regimes will be over, and will never be able to return.

There is, however, another very serious risk that Zimbabweans need to protect themselves against. Another aim of Agenda 2063 is for Africans to “be amongst the best performers in global quality of life measures” or, in plain English, they will enjoy Western-quality lifestyles. Mugabe is not the only African leader who has failed to take his citizens from poverty to affluence. ALL African governments have so failed, although few as badly as he has. But the truth is that there is absolutely no reason why the great majority of Africans could not by now have been living Western-quality lifestyles – or if not that, at least something approaching it.

The ONLY reason they aren’t is because NOT ONE of Africa’s governments has done what it should have done to take their citizens from extreme poverty to affluence.

There are two reasons for this. Some are simply not interested in taking their citizens from poverty to affluence. This is the case with Mugabe: he couldn’t care less about getting you out of poverty. He is not even interested in getting the rank-and-file members of his own political party out of extreme poverty. Indeed, he cynically manipulates, exploits and abuses the ordinary members of ZANU-PF almost as much as anyone else, and I just I don’t understand why they put up with it. The opposition is missing a big trick here, because if only they could get this message across to ZANU-PF, his own party might turn on him.

In effect, Mugabe’s and all Africa’s repressive governments are deliberately keeping their citizens in extreme poverty. The reason is that it makes it much easier to control them.

Zimbabweans need to ensure that their next government does not do the same.

The other reason why African governments have failed so appallingly to get their citizens from poverty to affluence is plain and simple incompetence: they just don’t know how to go about it. So Zimbabweans also need to protect themselves against that because there is no sign at all that the MDC has any more idea about how to take them from poverty to affluence than any other African government does.

So even if Zimbabwe’s new government is not repressive, it is still very unlikely to take its citizens out of poverty and into affluence. This is another reason why Zimbabweans need to get Tsvangirai to commit to Agenda 2063 and the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan, because it shows your government exactly how to take you from poverty to affluence.

If Zimbabweans do this, they will only be doing what the AU asks them to do, which is to: “Encourage all private candidates and political parties to use Agenda 2063 as the basis for developing their manifestos”. The great beauty of this is that all citizens will be able to check the MDC’s progress against the targets in Agenda 2063, and take immediate action when it fails, or looks as if it might fail, to achieve them.

The message to Morgan Tsvangirai is if the MDC was to make Agenda 2063 part of its manifesto, it will hugely strengthen its appeal to Zimbabweans. In fact, it’s appeal to Zimbabweans would be a stormer. And it might even appeal to present ZANU-PF members who want to escape from poverty into affluence.

Of course, this is a double-edged sword for Morgan Tsvangirai because, if he fails to do this, his own supporters and all Zimbabweans need to question how committed he really is to good governance.

Never in African history has any political party offered this to ordinary Africans, and Morgan Tsvangirai will be the first in Africa to do so. At least, we hope so.

Believe it or not, Mugabe’s government actually signed up to Agenda 2063! But you won’t be surprised to hear that he has so far failed in every one of its targets, has not carried out any of the commitments his government signed up to do, most of which are specifically designed to improve the lot of ordinary African citizens and, indeed, has completely ignored his promises. What ammunition that is for Tsvangirai!

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