Mnangagwa Enganged By National People’s Convention

Delegates to the National People’s Convention which was held in Harare on Friday have produced a five page document seeking to guide President Emmerson Mnangagwa on how to run his government on issues raised by the civil society.

By Paul Nyathi

The convention held under the auspices of a gathering of civil society organisations, labour unions and churches, provided the new President with a varied range of issues he may need to attend to as he formulates his government.

Below is the full letter delivered to Mnangagwa’s office on Tuesday morning.

27 November 2017

HE Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa
President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
Munhumutapa Building
Samora Machel Avenue

Your Excellency,
Re: Submission of National People’s Convention Declaration

We write on behalf of the National People’s Convention (NPC) made up of Churches, Non-Governmental Organisations, Labour Unions, Residents Organisations, Women’s Movement and Youth Organisations firstly, to congratulate you upon your inauguration as the new President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. We recognise that the nation is at crossroads and that your administration has the onerous task of steering all of us towards a more prosperous future.

Four thousand delegates drawn from constituencies across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe attended the NPC on the 24th of November to reflect upon key issues that could assist your administration in discharging its herculean mandate. Your Excellency, we found encouragement from your acknowledgement that many Zimbabweans from across the political, ethnic and racial divide helped to make this dispensation possible and have legitimate expectations from the office you now occupy. Indeed, as citizens, we have a stake in the success of your Administration.

Kindly find attached the NPC Declaration for your possible consideration. We draw the attention of your good offices to the specific recommendations contained in the Declaration. In light of which, we would cherish an opportunity to dialogue in detail regarding the Declaration and our mutual responsibility to ensure that our nation turns a new leaf under your able guidance.

Your Excellency we welcome your undertaking “to serve our country as the President of all citizens.” We strongly identify with your goal to “preside over a polity and run an administration that recognises strength in our diversity as a people.” In our view, your commitment to inclusivity would best be epitomized by the formation of an inclusive government. Such a government will go a long way towards fostering national unity, social cohesion as well as enhance our national prospects for economic recovery. The nation has endured many years of divisive politics and unnecessary polarization. We believe that this must change and can change under your able leadership.

Ours is a moment we “dare not squander.” In this regard, we believe that a well thought-out transitional period and mechanism would offer the nation sufficient time to establish a conducive environment for free, fair and credible elections. Our first election in this new dispensation should therefore be open to all citizens, including those in the diaspora. As a first step it is, therefore, critical that existing electoral laws and bodies be aligned to the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution. Additionally, in order to enhance the integrity of our electoral processes and outcomes, your Administration should consider accreditation of all local, regional and international observer missions, and a continuous Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process. Further, the BVR process should –in keeping with the constitutional right to access to information- be made open for verification by civil society.

Your Excellency, previous elections have been marred by violence and perceptions of partisan enforcement of the law. As such, we urge your administration to consign this trend to the dustbins of history by taking all measures to dismantle the para-state groups that have historically been associated with violence and to increase access to legal justice for victims of political violence. An effective electoral dispute resolution mechanism should also be put in place and sufficiently empowered to pre-empt, mitigate and effectively address all arising disputes. We believe that these measures will go a long way to end electoral violations and impunity.

Whilst we join the nation in celebrating the heroic roles that the war veterans played in the liberation of our country and during the recent solidarity marches to call for political change. We contend that the true legacy of our country is that which enables women and youth as well as other vulnerable groups to enjoy the fruits of freedom and to be shapers of the future of our country. Your Excellency, gender parity in public offices and leadership will be a critical achievement of this new dispensation. We therefore call upon your administration to adopt policies and programmes for the socio-economic and political empowerment of women. In particular, efforts aimed at eliminating all forms of violence and discrimination against women should be made a priority. Your Excellency, the well-being of our nation is inseparable from the effort to empower women and youth as the true guarantors of our liberation.

Your Excellency, economic structural transformation requires that our economic and social policies be aligned. Our education system must become the skills reservoir for our industries. Likewise, our school curricular must reflect this ambition to industrialize and become food self-sufficient as a nation. In order to achieve industrialization and food security, we need to deal with both the mindsets and behaviours that are inimical to national progress. In particular, there is need to curb primitive accumulation as well as conspicuous consumption. The path to industrialization requires that we utilize our agricultural and mining base in order to create downward, sideward and backward linkages within the economy. This moment requires that we negotiate and conclude a national mining vision that prioritizes value-addition. Our investment in the mining of phosphates, nitrates, copper and other minerals more directly linked with our industrialization ambition should be ratcheted-up.

Your Excellency, we are in full accord with your Administration’s judgement that our Economic Policy should be predicated on agriculture, which remains the mainstay of our national economy. In our view, a properly resourced agro-economy with a clear commitment to maximise value across the entire value-chain from production, processing, preservation and marketing will stimulate job creation and skills development for the youth. In order to unlock the true value of all our productive land and create opportunity for equitable redistribution to cover young people we call upon your Administration to institute a comprehensive land audit followed by a people-centred land redistribution exercise aimed at creating jobs and viable economic opportunities for young men and women. In this regard, it is our hope and intention to support your Administration in taking a principled stance to prioritise the redistribution of wealth and productive resources and the provision of public goods and services to benefit the young people of our nation. We also urge your administration to pursue a balanced approach to employment creation and investment promotion.

Your Excellency, we strongly concur with you, “Acts of corruption must stop forthwith.” The fleecing of public revenue through illicit financial flows, narcotics and more recently human trafficking is a blight to the conscience of our nation. Economic recovery and the provision of adequate jobs and social services are highly dependent on our collective ability to combat corruption and illicit financial flows. We therefore, call upon your Administration to, amongst others:
 Put in place laws, policies and mechanisms to combat illicit financial flows and in particular smuggling of flora and fauna.
 Review all mining contracts with a view to ensuring that the rents and royalties paid are equitable.
 Eliminate the role of shadowy middlemen in the public tender system and put in place an effective performance management system to ensure that those awarded public tenders actually undertake the work to acceptable standards.
 Ensure that all public officials declare their assets.
 Ensure that the Companies -including names of Directors- that win public tenders are published.
 Strengthen the investigative and prosecutorial capacity of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
 Put in place a debt sustainability framework to assist in the management of Zimbabwe’s public debt. This effort should ideally happen concurrently with a comprehensive national debt audit.

As our nation seeks to re-engage the international community, we urge that the engagement of the Zimbabwean Diaspora both as suppliers of remittances, investors, technical skills resource pool and voters will be a critical starting point. Your Excellency we stand ready to support these efforts through our own international contacts and networks by establishing a common narrative that seeks to promote Zimbabwe as an investment and tourism destination. In this regard, we urge your government to consider turning Zimbabwe into a hub for Conference tourism by offering visas on arrival for all Africans or visa free entry as the case might be.

We acknowledge Your Excellency’s commitment to “approach security issues, from a broad, human, physical and social perspective.” Security sector reform and a return to Constitutionalism will indeed return international confidence in our democracy and assure the people of Zimbabwe that the recent actions by our military were a necessary intervention for the common good and not just factional interests. We therefore appeal for the immediate alignment of the security laws with the constitution, a return to the rule of law as well as the establishment of a climate of peace and security. Your Excellency the people of Zimbabwe anticipate the continuation of limited police checkpoints and roadblocks designed to serve the safety of citizens and not a ploy to extort hard-earned money from the public.

Your Excellency, the ultimate task that faces our nation is that of achieving an enduring unity based on values of truth, justice, healing and reconciliation. We see this as a season for nation building and honest introspection. Whilst human agency has been key in our unfortunate recent political history, there are systemic issues that we must collectively address as a nation. Your Excellency, the whole nation and indeed the NPC awaits an opportunity to achieve your call to finally let ‘bygones be bygones’. We stand ready to support your Administration’s efforts to achieve sustainable and value-based national healing and reconciliation by lending our existing infrastructures, competencies and social capital. In our view, your Administration could kick-start this critical process of national healing through the activation of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission by passing its long-overdue enabling legislation.

We would like to thank you in advance for your kind cooperation and trust that an occasion will present itself soon for us to dialogue on these matters of mutual importance.

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