There has been a lot of talk about ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) as something we all need to sacrifice for. This programme is wholly misplaced. It is like putting the horse before the cart. What is needed is POSAP (Political Structural Adjustment Programme).
The idea that economic issues are independent variables which can be manipulated without regard for politics is false. In fact, we must be honest and recognise that Esap will not succeed without Posap.
The World Bank is not interested in Posap but we as Zimbabweans should be because that’s where the money is. Esap is a digression.
Why do we need Posap?
- In order to have provincial autonomy which will make Esap possible by freeing individual and community initiatives.
- To bring about a situation in which individuals and communities will have a stake in the political process.
- To remove the state from minding our business all the time in order to punish us by denying us development.
- To bring about moral development which ZANU-PF has publicly said it is unable to provide and has mischievously asked the Catholic church to provide. Moral development is a community category.
- To ensure that projects like getting the pipeline from the Zambezi are carried out.
To this end we need new provincial structures. If we are to allocate resources fairly in this country, we must have only four provinces. The differences between Matebeleland North and South, Mashonaland East, West and Central are imaginary. Indeed the eight administrative provinces we have in such a small country are designed for central authorities and not for local autonomy. This is why ZANU-PF has 10 political provinces.
Governors must be elected. Various districts in each province must elect two representatives to sit in some kind of provincial council or senate. The current municipalities should be reconstituted in accordance with the new provincial structure.
The formation of provincial political parties should be tolerated. Under such an agreement no political party in Matebeleland would survive without dealing with the water problem.
A colleague in Harare expressed great concern about the subject of provincial autonomy and was worried that it may be an invitation to the formation of breakaway republics, especially the much feared republic of Matebeleland.
No. My emphasis on the need for provincial autonomy has no basis in the formation of a new state anywhere in Zimbabwe although I have no doubt that failure to deal more honestly with issues of autonomy in the provinces is a sure recipe for future disaster where demands for autonomy may be accompanied by claims for statehood. Otherwise we should be all clear that Zimbabwe as it is presently constituted is a legitimate, sovereign state to which we all belong and which we must all serve with commensurate national commitment and loyalty.
However, national commitment and loyalty are not blind values. They must have a concrete grounding in the everyday reality of the people who must have clear stakes in the country’s political process. Having a stake in the political process is the reason for political participation.
When we look around us it is clear that the people are not participating in designing policies and allocating resources which affect them. There is a crisis of participation in Zimbabwe. This is why the country’s social environment is characterised by entrenched suffering. Social services are steadily collapsing in Zimbabwe. Look at the shortage of urban transport caused by a ruling party which has used ZUPCO to the detriment of local communities.
Most Zimbabweans are mere spectators in politics because they have no meaningful channels for participating at the national level. So citizens watch things happen while their social misery mounts. The only available form of participation at national level is voting and that is still very underdeveloped in this country. The institution of participation is ZANU-PF and this is unsatisfactory for various reasons. Without participation, development lags behind as the water crisis here readily shows.
In order to solve the crisis of participation in Zimbabwe, and to have meaningful community development, we need to reexamine the whole political structure of this country with a view to seeking to establish provincial autonomy.
But what is provincial autonomy? By provincial autonomy, I mean the possibility of Zimbabwe’s citizens to exercise true self-determination with respect to the formulation of policies and allocation of resources in their specific communities.
But why don’t we have provincial autonomy? There are two reasons -one colonial and the other post independence. Before colonialism, there was no unitary state in Zimbabwe. Communities in this country enjoyed both structural and situational autonomy. That space was closed by colonial occupation which sought centralisation of authority.
After independence, the ZANU-PF government took over from where the successive colonial governments left. ZANU-PF was desperate for power. Even though the party played a decisive role in the armed struggle and even though it won a majority in the 1980 elections, we must remember that ZANU-PF was not an entrenched party inside the country.
It had no support of the workers, youth, women, nor did it really have the support from the chiefs. The support of the peasants was also very questionable. This reality forced ZANU-PF into a number of desperate measures such as:
- Striping chiefs of their traditional power;
- Seeking support from women and the youth by reducing the legal age of majority act in a hurry;
- Incorporating workers into its wings by forming the ZCTU;
- Politicising local authorities to the point of producing incredible town clerks such as Harare’s Edward Kanengoni;
- Establishing VIDCOs, WADCOs within a largely party framework;
- And appointing DAs and provincial governors on a party basis.
Provincial autonomy is not an administrative matter it is essentially political.
What is needed in order to promote provincial autonomy and facilitate meaningful participation of local communities is devolution of power. Power belongs to the people and the people are found in communities.
By Dr Jonathan Moyo
Extracted from his address to the Open Forum meeting in Bulawayo