Bulawayo—Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) on Tuesday night unveiled its manifesto ahead of the 23 August harmonised elections, promising an ambitious US$100 billion economy in the next decade.
The manifesto titled “A New Great Zimbabwe” was launched by the movement’s president, Nelson Chamisa, in Bulawayo, the second capital, and comes barely two weeks before the elections.
READ THE MANIFESTO IN BELOW LINK
The ruling Zanu PF, which set off its election campaign in June in Chipinge, Manicaland province, is yet to publicise its own manifesto, in a departure from its tradition whereby it did so well before polls in the past.
Chamisa said his government would build a US$100 billion “productive, competitive, inclusive, entrepreneurial and rewarding economy”.
“The Citizens government seeks, through the New Great Zimbabwe blueprint, to pursue a vigorous programme of economic transformation that will lead to a prosperous, inclusive and shared economy.
“Only through pro-poor and shared growth will the country see job creation and socio-economic development. In this regard, this pledge seeks to build a US$100 billion economy in less than a decade,” he said.
The blueprint, however, does not present a strategic plan regarding how a CCC government is going to grow the economy to such a size.
It does not indicate how a Chamisa-led dispensation would overcome the root causes of the decades-long economic crisis Zimbabwe is suffering, nor does it offer insights on where it would get the resources to revive the economy.
A US$100 billion—or even bigger—economy is considered possible in 10 years, though, given the vast natural resources that Zimbabwe enjoys.
The highest the economy has gone in recent years is slightly over a third of what CCC is projecting, as shown by World Bank statistics.
Last year, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was at US$20.68 billion, according to the World Bank, having plummeted from US$34 billion in 2018, just after the current establishment deposed the late Robert Mugabe who was in power from independence in 1980 to November 2017 when the military stepped in to force him out.
Adapted from the World Bank
If elected into office, Chamisa promised, his government would immediately release all political prisoners that include a political ally, Job Sikhala, who has been languishing in maximum prison for more than a year without a conviction on charges of inciting public violence.
The CCC leader also pledged to restore the dignity and rights of all citizens.
“As soon as we get into power, we will make sure that all political prisoners such as Job Sikhala, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) activists and Jacob Ngarivhume are freed.
“We will also reverse oppressive laws such as the Patriotic Bill and Private Voluntary Organization (Amendment) Bill,” said Chamisa.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently assented to amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that creates the crime of “wilfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”.
This amendment in what is now popularly referred to as the Patriot Act is considered too vague and an attempt to muzzle Zanu PF and government critics.
The PVO Bill, which awaits presidential assent, seeks to allow government to take over the running of non-governmental organisations.
Chamisa said his government would scrap the largely unpopular local currency within the first 100 days in office and embark on tax reforms.
Zimbabwe is among the top five most taxed countries in the world, alongside Chad, Sweden, Denmark and Austria.
The CCC is also promising to embark on public entity reformation, forcing relevant parastatals—which have acutely decayed over the decades—to operate long hours.
“We will set stakeholder turnaround timelines for all public service, parastatal, municipality…processes. The citizens’ government shall usher in a revolution of morals, a transformation of manners, a moral re-armament, a vow of values, ideas, principles and standards,”” said Chamisa.
Chamisa also pledged to trim his cabinet to only 15 ministries.
“A small-component bureaucracy could be an essential cog in the implementation and execution of the New Great Zimbabwe promise,” he added.
Bulawayo-based human rights defender and political analyst, Effie Ncube, described the CCC blueprint as a “bold and courageous statement”.
“What CCC is promising to do in the first 100 days if elected into power is very comprehensive and touches on every aspect of life that people are grappling with on a daily basis,” said Ncube.
“The document is dealing with health, road infrastructure and the currency crisis, which is a topical issue affecting every household,” he added.