Political toxicity as an impendent to the development and policy consistency in Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwe has tremendous potential, with rich natural resources and one of the most educated populations in Africa. The country has since the turn of the century been going through several rounds of interlocking multi-dimensional crises characterized by economic collapse, worsening of livelihoods, and political polarization. Politically, the country remains in gridlock after the 2023 elections. The “main opposition party, the MDC-T (MDC-Alliance) formerly led by Dr. R Tsvangirai fell out of the election race towards the 2023 elections. The newly formed Citizen Convergence for Change (CCC) led by the former MDC Alliance 2018 Presidential Candidate Nelson Chamisa has gained popularity and traction among the people. Thousands of people braved the scorching heat across the 10th province of Zimbabwe in support of Chamisa´s CCC. Since 2018, the MDC Alliance has persistently continued to raise the legitimate question of the Harare Regime, and the CCC after the August 2023 elections continue to raise the same question. This political impasse in Zimbabwe has led to a highly cartelized and patronage-based economy characterized by policy inconsistency.

Historically, ZANU PF`s violence and political intolerance have led to the polarisation of the Zimbabwean populace. After 37 years in power, President Robert Mugabe was toppled via a military coup which was termed the military-assisted transition in November 2017. His successor and former Vice President, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, promised a breakthrough from Mugabeism to a developmental democratic Zimbabwe which had remained a pic in the sky. He declared a “new Zimbabwe” or “new dispensation” with an “open for business” foreign policy approach. The open-for-business dream is yet to be realized even after the 2023 watershed elections. The critical factor and an impediment to achieving this is the impact of partisan politics and the toxic polarization of the people of Zimbabwe. ZANU PF power project is to continually instigate monopolizing state power while denying political rights and opportunities to other political actors to compete for political power and to participate in policy dialogue

The country is moving towards its five years of the “new” government and one of the critical questions is concerns about economic policies and the stabilization of the economy which has been in intensive care since the “new” government in 2018. The Mnangagwa regime just like Mugabe’s continues with its intolerance of the opposition political parties specifically the current and newly formed CCC. He consistently paid lip service to democracy and democratic elections, which he has manipulated to his advantage and that of his party and the 2023 elections was not an exemption. In announcing the party at the Zimbabwe grounds before the elections, Chamisa promised a radical change and that he would not be rigged in the 2023 elections. However, Zimbabwe is suffering from the repercussions of authoritarian populism and politics without principles by political actorsPopulist politicians continue to disdain formal democratic institutions, such as courts, legislatures, and regulatory agencies which they call “captured” by ZANU PF. Personified politics had for years taken advantage of the people and threatened democracy by eroding formal institutions and undermining the values and norms of democracy while building demigods in political leaders. These practices have undermined public policies and institutions of implementation. 

The formulation of national economic policy in Zimbabwe is governed by Section 2 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20), 2013 which invalidates all secondary and subsidiary legislations deemed to be ultra vires the prescriptions laid down in the Constitution. The critical question in the policy formulation conundrum is the role of political actors and in the Zimbabwean situation, the cabinet, legislature, and judiciary are responsible for making national policies. Public policy is a course of action to be taken by a political party voted into power in democratic governance systems by a majority of the electorate to form a government whose responsibility would be to fulfill the needs of the people. The ZANU PF government in this case led by Emmerson Mnangagwa has the sole responsibility to formulate public policy with the help of parliament which is less dominated by the opposition CCC members. 


For decades Zimbabwe has had a history of policy inconsistences which has been a huge factor in the deterioration of foreign direct investments and economic development. Public policy has far-reaching consequences and represents action plans taken by the Government to redress problems encountered by citizens. The regime failed to address and redress the concerns of the citizens, civil servants, the private and international actors. Civil servants in Zimbabwe earn less than $200 (£150) a month using the official exchange rate, and less than $100 at the parallel market exchange rate. This in the long run might trigger demonstrations from Civil servants. The Civil servant’s protests like usual might be triggered by a lack of wide consultations during budget and policy formulation in general which left them misappropriated and paid a wage below the poverty datum line. Various stakeholders ranging from civic society organizations, NGOs, and the private sector have raised concerns regarding national economic policy inconsistencies and there has been discord in public pronouncements and interpretation of policies leading to lack of permanency in enacted laws.


Zimbabwe is currently ranked 140/190 in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index on the back of streamlining approvals for permits, reduction of the business licensing fees, and creation of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) one-stop-shop investment platform. The currency is not stable which is another factor scaring investors as they fear that the country might go back to the 2008 situation where the Zimbabwean dollar lost value overnightThe 2023 fiscal and monetary policies determine the level of aggregate government expenditure and money supply in an economy. In such Zimbabwean situations of ineffective policy management, there is bound to be increased inflationary or deflationary pressures, which erode the real income of households and corporate entities.


The private sector and international partners have lost confidence in the Harare regime due to its policy inconsistency and lack of transparency and accountability. Lack of confidence in the regime has closed foreign direct investments and opened various investment opportunities in the tourism, mining, and agricultural sectors. The ZANU PF-led regime has a history of mismanagement of public resources and nepotism, particularly within the tendering system. The opposition movements continue to blame the regime for using state coffers and institutions to monopolize its stay in power while putting the country into huge debt. The regime has for years displayed its kleptocratic tendencies, no jobs, no free education, and no functional healthcare system which it has promised in the run-up to the 2018 general elections.  


The ZANU PF government won the 2023 elections on the background of five years of unfulfilled promises. There is the persistence of poverty, massive unemployment, collapsed healthcare system, poor public transport system, and underpaid civil servants. Formal players within the Zimbabwean economy are disappointed to note that the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax (IMT) threshold has not been reviewed upwards. Neither were there strides to make IMTT deductible from Value Added Tax (VAT) or Corporate TaxThe Harare regime has failed to live up to its promises and its continual political toxicity which has been for decades an impendent to development and policy consistency in Zimbabwe. The ruling party has captured government institutions which it uses to monopolize its stay in power. For Zimbabwe to break through from its developmental debacle, institutions of government must have clearly defined responsibilities, and competencies and must be independent from political infiltration and control.  Effective citizen participation in public policy formulation should be ensured to enhance divergent views and proper decision-making.