Zimbabwe Upper Middle Income Economy Agenda 2030, – Are we not inviting trouble for our country

The government’s neoliberal agenda and its target for the Upper Middle Income Economy (UMIE) by 2030 if not handled well might present us with many challenges that will further alienate and suffocate the poor and down trodden. For the benefit of those who may not have read about it, the precursor to this agenda is the Transitional  Stabilisation Programme (TSP) Reform  Agenda from  October 2018 – December 2020  under the theme “ Towards a Prosperous & Empowered Upper Middle Income Society by 2030” The Transitional Stabilisation Programme focuses  on; stabilising the macro-economy, and the financial sector, introducing necessary policy, and institutional reforms, to transform to a private sector led economy, addressing infrastructure gaps and  launching quick-wins to stimulate growth.

So Zimbabwe is seeking to move from what appears to be Low-Income Economy  which has a  Gross NationaI  Income per capita of $995 or less in 2017 (Word Bank Atlas Method) to Upper Middle-Income Economy  with a Gross National Income (GPI)  per capita between $3,896 and $12,055. In the world so far there are 58 countries falling us this category.

Implications of the neo liberal agenda  

In 2017, 51% of all humanitarian funds were requested by the United Nations for crises in Middle Income countries (UNOCHA, 2017). Thus Upper Middle Income Economies seem to have more problems and a widening gap between the rich and poor. For example Upper Middle Income Countries that have wider gap between rich and poor; closer home is the republic of South Africa that stands out as one of the most unequal countries in the world. In 2014, the top 10% received 2/3 of national income, while the top 1% received 20% of national income (World Inequality Index 2014). Namibia is another country that can be explored to demonstrate dangers of moving to Upper Middle Income Economy. Outside the African continent, Brazil  is another example whose income distribution has remained extremely unequal over the last 15 years, with the top 10% receiving over 55% of total income in 2015.

Based on the above, a number of questions arise i.e.  Is it what we want as a country, were the citizens consulted in coming up with this economic reform agenda. Many of the citizens heard about the Upper Middle Income Economy Agenda 2030 when the Finance and Economic Development Minister was addressing potential investors in Washington DC.  Is it the best model for our economic development, are there no other pro – poor alternatives besides going the route that appears will create problems for us.  To put these questions into perspective, World Band (2017), notes that five billion of the world’s seven billion people and 73% of the world’s POOR live in middle-income countries. In my Ndebele language we would say under these circumstances “LLokhu yikuzidonsela amanzi ngomsele” meaning we are inviting problems for ourselves, has current setup failed us?

The possible problems of this economic reform agenda to the poor;

  • There is a likelihood that there will be displacement of people to create space for investors particularly those in the extractives.
  • There is a likelihood of re- introduction of modern day slavery through tax holidays and low wages.
  • Exclusion of part of the population from the benefits of economic growth, no trickledown effect as it seems to focus on Gross National Income per Capita than Social Indicators and use of the Genuine Progress Indicator.
  • Corrupt tendencies on tender processes and kickbacks particularly to those who will “facilitate” business deals for investors.
  • Ridiculous taxation on ordinary citizens like the Intermediary Money Transfer Tax of 2 cents & Sin Tax among others.
  • High cost of living since many public goods will be privatised as defined by the neo- liberal agenda. Government has already given some State Owned Enterprises deadline to conclude their privatisation strategies.
  • Domestic debt will continue increasing and burden the future unless the country is classified under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and get special assistance from the Bretton Words institutions.


In my view as a country we need to;

  • Need to have Efficient Wealth Distribution pro- poor policies.
  • Effective Civil Society to hold government to account.
  • Participatory planning and inclusivity of all citizens.
  • Strong institutions that combat corruption and government excesses.
  • Local resource mobilisation
  • Community, Private, Public Partnerships.
  • Revitalising Trade Unions.
  • Re- modelling Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Austerity measures focusing mainly on profligate government expenditure.

Michael Ndiweni is the Executive Director for Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association , media scholar, also a Freelance journalist, he writes in his own capacity.

Can be contact on twitter @mdladlaspeaks.


Injiva Burial societies a business  opportunity for Zimbabweans based in SA

Injiva Burial societies can be modelled into business entities in South African and make a difference to member lives at home in Zimbabwe

I have been thinking about our people based in South Africa (injiva) and their avid love of burial societies.  They are so united, every weekend they converge at various public parks to contribute funds for funerals through their Burial Societies whilst on the other hand it is an opportunity to touch based on goings from home.

It will be interesting to know how much is the total economic value for SA based Zimbabwean burial societies. I am thinking what if they take part of their monthly/ weekly contributions and invest in viable business ideas back at home. I am just uncomfortable about their determination to invest in their death than their future, most of them young people who still have a bright future ahead of them. This will need a change of mind set and different way of doing things.

The Guardian Newspaper reports that 11.7 million South Africans attend burial society meetings every month. It asserts that there more than 100,000 burial societies across the country. This to me provides prospects for lucrative businesses if our Zimbabweans based in South Africa can get education financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Imagine many of our people do menials every day just to be able to contribute in a burial society after the death of their loved one, they have nothing to show for their lifetime contributions.

I think also networks of Zimbabweans based in South Africa must begin to dialogue on opportunities that can be explored by these burial societies. The strength of these burial societies is that they have loyal members. A burial society is community-orientated and supported and less regulated than a funeral plan. In as much as benefits can be accrued after death of the member or family member I think they can be transformed into meaningful business concerns that can cater for both the leaving and the dead.

Locally for example, Chronicle Newspaper 05 May, 2016   says that the system has worked well for many, but for some, it has been a chain of disasters. It reports that some members have been snubbed at their time of need because some had missed a single premium. Imagine if this burial society was running some business, they could have not  perhaps considered  the missed payment.


Vendors are not to blame for litter in cities

I will start by saying that if there is a person who is advocating for banning of informal trading they say so because they have alternative sources of income or they have good lives and formal jobs. Although I can bet they have a relative or friend who is in informal trading.

I would like to also comment on designated market places. I read some people  say vendors must go to designated sites, are you aware that the ‘designated sites’ in question for example Highlanders market (Masotsha Avenue & Fife Street) has no high human and vehicular activity.

Traders survive on human and vehicular activity. We have communicated this council and we are still waiting for their action. Some are arguing that vendors are dirty,  point on cleanliness is a responsibility for every citizen and even bigger firms discharge liquid and solid waste to water streams but still someone wants to blame vendors.

Some people here do not pay rates, they owe council hundreds of dollars thus council fails to collect litter and you blame vendors. Some of you here, your friends and neighbours do illegal dumping in undesignated sites but you blame vendors.

Some of your friends relieve themselves emkotweni (passages) in shops and you blame vendors. Government fails to provide clean water through supporting local authorities with grants to provide clean water and to also refurbish sewer system but you blame vendors and informal traders.

We have pay toilets in town, it is embarrassing that Ian Smith knew that a public toilet is a human necessity and a right to dignity. We have failed to educate our children at elementary level to know that littering everywhere is wrong and that cleanliness becomes our culture. We see grown up men and women with hairy armpits clad on  designer suits and make up eating and throwing banana peels and take away packs outside moving car windows but you blame vendors. Let us stop blaming a section of our community and be all responsible and make suggestions on what we can collectively do to keep our cities clean. We are all guilty lets us play our role in making sure that our city including others in Zimbabwe. This blame game is acceptable.


De-harmonise local government elections – Residents speak

Residents in Bulawayo and various cities have called for de-harmonising local government elections to improve attention paid to council candidates in local government elections. This came at a stakeholder meeting organized by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Women Institute Leadership Development (WILD) to share findings for the Local Government Elections Survey Report – The Uncertainty of 2018  done last year from August – October 2017 with a sample of 3640 respondents.

Lead Researcher Dr Davison Muchadenyika said the study observed that the timing of local government elections should not coincide with presidential and parliamentary elections as it does not raise the profile of local government elections and that it does not increase political competition during council elections.

Interviewed on the side-lines of the meeting Honourable Malaba MP Phumula Constituency also ZANU PF parliamentary candidate who was also present at the meeting said “It is an important recommendation for an election, when elections are separated people will opt for quality than in harmonised elections where people opt for partisan arrangement”  “It is a very sound recommendation, legislators must take it into account and perhaps raise a motion parliament, he added.   He said that he will foster a sense of serious consideration and definitely put it as his party agenda and that there is however still need for wider consultation.

MDC Alliance local government council candidate for Ward 9 Mr Mabutho Donaldson concurred with MP Malaba and said “De-harmonisation gives people an opportunity to choose candidates based on their strengths, because during harmonised elections people are told to vote for a party name, but de-harmonisation helps to look for strengths, capacity of every individual” He pointed that harmonised elections confuse the electorate and makes people just to vote without knowing the candidates abilities.

Asked to comment on the de-harmonisation recommendation from the researchers at the same meeting Mr Fortune Mlalazi People’s Rainbow Coalition Candidate  for Magwegwe Constituency said “We definitely need to de-harmonise so that there is more concentration on local government business, this will allow us to choose quality candidates because we will be more focused and give more attention to local development” He said in South African for example there are separate elections between national and local government elections.

The study also revealed that 60% of the respondents of local government election survey prefer mayors with executive powers and 52.4% prefer councillors to work full time at the council.  The study also recommended that CSO must play a critical role to organise debate sessions for council candidates, publish and disseminate credentials of candidates, provide the electorate with simplified checklists of issues to look for in parties and candidates  an election campaign and manifestos.

The survey was conducted by the ‘We Pay You Deliver’ (WPYD)  Civil Society Consortium focusing on harnessing citizen demand for improved service delivery & transparent use of public resources. The Consortium was comprised of Danish Church Aid, Combined Harare Residents Association, Harare Residents Trust  , Habakkuk Trust,  ZWRCN, Diakonia and the two organizations that hosted the meeting.  Project target areas were Harare Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo & Umzingwane.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Residents castigate candidate imposition in Bulawayo

Bulawayo residents have castigated some political parties for imposing candidates for local government elections scheduled for 30 July 2018. Participants at a meeting organized by BPRA and WILD to share the findings of the Local Government Elections Survey – The Uncertainty of 2018 carried out between and October 2017.

Speaking on the side-lines of the meeting Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Chairperson Mr Reason Ngwenya said the move taken by political parties is not unacceptable, all the candidates must come from the people, not from the parties. He said “Democracy is about people and people must choose their own candidates” “Parties that imposed candidates are likely to lose those council seats” He warned.

To guard against candidate imposition,  the study urged political parties to evaluate the credentials of council candidates during primary elections and that parties must have a criteria for candidates which is competence and integrity based.   The research rated the performance of sitting councillors as poor by 44.7%.

Media houses have reported that conflicts that have erupted in various political parties after allegedly imposition of some council elections candidates in some wards. To demonstrate the height of the fissures on candidate imposition, when the MDC Alliance presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa took to micro blogging platform- Twitter to complain about the allegedly refusal by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the voters roll to MDC Alliance, Mr Lion oh Judah who is believed to the son of Mr Felix Magalela Sibanda MDC T Chamisa party spokesperson replied and said “ Magwegwe folk begged for primary elections and you denied them. We have asked for sanctions against ZANU PF if they do not elections. I will be meeting @SenBooker over the selling of 210 congressional seats to personal friends of yours. Criminal. You are corrupt.”

On the 18th of June 2018, Mr Mbuso Siso who has been deputy national information and publicity secretary confirmed on a Facebook post that the Professor Welshman Ncube led MDC has dismissed him  for allegedly blocking imposition of Mr Nkanyiso Brezhnev Mathonsi to be a candidate for ward 2 Bulawayo Central seat. He accused Professor for his dictatorial behaviour and likened him to Mugabe regime that attempted to create a dynasty by imposing his wife.

The study further recommended that parties must prioritise council elections by fielding candidates with a traceable record of public service commitment than those preferred by those higher echelons of political parties.

By Michael Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Sympathy Vote favours Dr Khuphe in Zimbabwe 2018 polls



The Zimbabwean forthcoming elections slated for the 30th of July 2018 presents presidential candidates with different prospects, one of the key issues that politicians, key board political warriors aka Social Media activists and political pundits ignore is the Sympathy Vote.

A Sympathy Vote entails an occasion when a lot of people vote for or support a particular person because he or she has suffered recently on her/his struggles with abuse.

For example a tragic death of a political candidate in the midst of a campaign. The concept of the Sympathy Vote suggests that media coverage of the tragedy and the unification of public opinion carry the party of the deceased to victory on Election Day. Thus the MDC T party stood a better chance to benefit from a Sympathy Vote after the demise of its founding leader Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai before its fights escalated leading to Dr Thokozani Khuphe holding her extra ordinary  congress after the MDC T National Executive Council controversially endorsed Advocate Nelson Chamisa to be the interim president until congress.

It is also important to point that in this concept that the emotional dynamics of public opinion may not be so simple and binary but complex. Researchers have argued that the relationship between emotion and candidate support hinges largely on behavioural expectations of those that remain entrusted with the duty to fulfil the mandate and also how the media covers all the processes that ensures after the death of the candidate.

In light of the ugly scenes witnessed in Buhera during the burial of Morgan Tsvangirai where the MDC T Vanguard militia harassed Dr Khuphe and nearly set the hut that she and other officials have taken refuge in set in motion negative coverage by the media. Thus according to the Sympathy Vote concept if messages violate expectations, media will focus on controversy leading to a dissipation of the sympathy effect in public opinion.

One can therefore deduce that for now the Sympathy Vote flies in the face of MDC T faction led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa who now heads MDC Alliance and has eluded them because sustained coverage of ugly scenes and debauchery witnessed also in Bulawayo and continuous reports of imposition of candidates, threats of shootings and fights within rank and file of the faction. As bitter as it is to swallow for now the biggest beneficiary of the Sympathy Vote is the faction led by Dr Khuphe whom the media has largely pointed to be the victim of the MDC T internal fights, her cause has been further strengthened by sexism undertones that the public has deducted from utterances made by her erstwhile compatriot Advocate Nelson Chamisa in some platforms here and abroad.

Observers must not also ignore the fact that the ZANU PF candidate stands to benefit from the Sympathy Vote, one as a victim of former president Robert Gabriel Mugabe political shenanigans, secondly as he appears to be “messiah: who served Zimbabweans from facing 39 years of Mugabe’s rule albeit being propped by the military to ascend to presidency in November 2017. The disappearance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the highways who seemingly thrived on milking Zimbabweans their hard earned money, semblance of new found freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and aura of hope that has been restored post military assisted transition, opening of operating space for Civil Society to carry its functions within communities seem to tilt the Sympathy Vote also to ZANU PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa. Sadly the populace seem to forget that the ZANU PF candidate is accused of being the hand that implemented Gukurahundi Genocide under the instruction of former president Robert Mugabe that left over 20000 people dead according to conservative estimates from CCJP.  MDC Alliance candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa is the biggest loser of the Sympathy Vote due his seemingly reckless statements, coupled with accusations of peddling lies in his addresses.

The Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) also stands to benefit from Sympathy Vote from Matabeleland region, their determined campaign to demand closure on Gukurahundi, their sustained media messages on economic exclusion of the people from Matabeleland is a shot in the arm for them to get the Sympathy Vote. Protests against President Emmerson  Mnangagwa at Zimbabwe International  Trade Fair  (ZITF) and the subsequent arrests of their 8 activists,  protests at the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) outreach meetings also presents them with an opportunity to get the Sympathy Vote

Lastly, it can be concluded that the biggest beneficiary of the Sympathy Vote in the opposition will be MDC T faction led by Dr Thokozani Khuphe assuming the courts rule in her favour, if not that vote will certainly go to Dr Nkosana Moyo, who could spring a surprise on middle class vote and assimilate the Sympathy Vote. Emmerson Mnangagwa shall also benefit from the Sympathy Vote based of his perceived role to have untangled Zimbabweans from Robert Mugabe’s bondage. More investigations must be done to get an elaborate picture on Sympathy Vote, its nexus with public opinion created by the media.

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Missed black community at HIFA

I was at HIFA yesterday. I learnt that the festival has predominately white community. It was very poorly attended. I could see more volunteers in red shirts than visitors. I also observed that the event is well funded looking at equipment and infrastructure. I tried to imagine if that investment was put on Intwasa. We could fill up Centenary Park. Econet, Standard Newspaper, Delta were some of the sponsors. Have they poured seemingly so much money in activities in Bulawayo or other Southern region festivities