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Jonathan Moyo slams Zanu PF Minister over lack of manifesto comments

Former cabinet Minister Jonathan Moyo has slammed Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi for claiming that Zanu-PF will not produce a written manifesto ahead of the August 23 harmonised general elections.

This comes after Ziyambi, a senior ruling party member on Sunday reiterated that his party and its leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa had agreed not to release a manifesto arguing that voters will be convinced by the work that the ruling party has been doing for the past five years.

“In the past, we used to concentrate on writing beautiful manifestos. In 2018, our President said let’s start writing our manifesto now by our deeds,” Ziyambi said.

“So, Zanu PF is not producing any document; we are talking of the deeds, and we are saying this is a man of action (President Mnangagwa) who is saying ‘let’s go on and do it ourselves as Zimbabweans’.”

Moyo, however, argues that it was wrong for Ziyambi to make such statements. He added that a manifesto is a necessary document that will tell the electorate what the party will offer the nation if it is re-elected.

“Minister Ziyambi is needlessly tying himself in knots, perhaps because he does not understand what a manifesto is.

“A manifesto is not what you have done – although that is relevant if you’re an incumbent – but it is about what you are going to do to warrant re-election; and there is no way of telling the electorate that, outside a manifesto.

“Incumbents cannot run for re-election by running away from what they will do, which can only be best stated in a manifesto, not least because it is not and cannot be self-evident from what they have done or not done.

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“So, in fact, a manifesto is words about deeds, not silent deeds. It’s not true that deeds speak for themselves, if they did; election campaigns would be unnecessary. An election campaign is about “selling” a manifesto,” the former information Minister said.

Moyo suspects that Ziyambi made the sentiments because he is not a candidate in the forthcoming election, after he lost in the primary election for Zvimba West.

“As such, to say ‘our work is our manifesto’ is well and good if you have a coherent, non-flowery but coherent and programmatic recorded or articulated narrative, whether written or spoken, which not only spells out the work you have done over the last five years, but also and more importantly spells out the work you propose to do, on the basis of which you seek re-election.

“A manifesto is thus a sine qua non of competitive elections.

“It’s difficult to understand whether Minister Ziyambi said what he said because he’s not a candidate in the forthcoming harmonised general election, after he lost in the primary election for Zvimba West, or he said it as justice minister; but one thing for sure is that no political commissar or information and publicity secretary worth their salt would say such an outrageous thing.

“A manifesto is not by definition a flowery document, it’s a policy action document which should not be confused with a novel.

“As a policy-action document, a manifesto is a programmatic narrative – whether written or spoken – of what a political party or a candidate whether incumbent or in opposition will do if elected for the next term of governance whose tenure is specified in the Constitution.

“It therefore stands to reason that if you’re the incumbent party, you must stand and run on your record of performance and to that extent, a manifesto is simply an outline of what you have done to improve and sustain lives and livelihoods over the last five years, and how you will do more and better of the same in the next five years.

“If you hold rallies, you don’t believe that your work speaks for itself because what is said at rallies is a manifesto or should be a manifesto, absent of which the whole exercise becomes a charade.

“To claim as did Minister Ziyambi that ‘our work speaks for itself’ or that ‘it’s about deeds, not words’ is not only a copout but it’s also arrogant and insulting to the electorate.

“A political party that holds rallies, clearly does not believe that its work speaks for itself, but – by holding rallies – believes in engaging the electorate and highlighting what it has done particularly well and what it will do better if elected,” Moyo said.