Public Ignorant of ZimAsset: Think Tank

By Prince Njagu
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) recently launched a report on the levels of public awareness of the government’s economic blueprint policy, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).
The research culminated in the production of a research report titled, “Knowledge, Attitude and Perceptions towards the ZimAsset Policy in Mashonaland West Province”.
The research was conducted in 13 Mashonaland West districts and the 384 of the respondents approached revealed that they were not significantly knowledgeable of ZimAsset.
“The aim of this research was to determine the public reception and buy-in into the policy”, said Getrude Mhlanga ZDI Programmes Manager.
The research was conducted so as to provide an insight into the opinions of the people’s perspective on the economic blue print and to try and determine the level of awareness on the part of the masses as they are ones that are affected by these policies.
Mhlanga added, “We looked into factors shaping citizen’s perceptions and attitudes towards the policy and the implications of these towards the successful execution and attainment of the policy objectives.”
From ZDI’s research findings 66% of the respondents were unaware what the economic blue print was all about and this might be due to ignorance or poor relay of information about the policy to the populace; indicated Ethel Muchena ZDI Programmes Officer
“The research findings show that the majority of Zimbabweans have no idea what the policy is all about and so there is the need for policymakers to educate the citizenry on what the economic blueprint is all about; what it stands for and how it would help in improving the livelihoods of the people in Zimbabwe”, said Natasha Justin a concerned citizen.
Muchena emphasized that failures of previous economic blueprints in the country can be attributed to disintegrated policy implementation systems.

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“Engage civil society organisations in policy making”, ZDI

By Daniel Chigunwe

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, (ZDI) a local policy think tank has called for the government to engage civil society in policy making to raise awareness and mobilize towards participatory policy making and implementation.

Launching a report in Harare titled Knowledge, Attitude and Perception, (KAP) snap survey of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, (Zim Asset) in Mashonaland West province, ZDI called for serious engagement of citizens in policy implementation to achieve an empowered society and growing economy.

According to ZDI, the research was conducted in a bid to investigate citizen’s perspectives of the policy; their knowledge, perceptions and attitudes towards Zim Asset.

The organization pointed out that since independence in 1980; Zimbabweans were being subjected to one blueprint after another with little regard to how the ordinary perceives them.

KAP was conducted against the background of failure of a litany of government policies which include, Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), Zimbabwe Program for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST), National Reform Program (NERP) and Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (MERP) which resulted in little change in the lives of Zimbabweans.

According to the survey report the formulation of Zim Asset, “was elite driven and there is minimal citizen engagement and therefore is failing the test of public legitimacy at the implementation stage.

“In order to inform policy process, capture the unheard voices of the citizens”

The call comes after the survey findings on the level of awareness, citizen’s perception and attitude towards Zim Asset reveal appalling low levels of policy knowledge and understanding.

The survey that was conducted in Mash West province including districts as Kariba, Hurungwe, Karoi, Chinhoyi, Makonde, Zvimba, Norton, Chegutu, Mhondoro, Sanyati and Kadoma revealed a lot of citizen’s ignorance and disengagement from the policy.

According to the report, “only 44% of the total respondents are aware of the Zim Asset policy, with only 13% perceiving the policy as achievable and 19 % relating to it”.

Also the report findings are that, “low citizen engagement and access to information on the formulation and implementation of Zim Asset (and other previous policies) has resulted in citizen apathy and pessimism.

“There is no citizen ownership of the Zim Asset policy and this, coupled with the absence of funding, could be its greatest undoing”.

The report also emphasizes that, “public policies are as successful as the extent to which there are co-owned and executed by the public and government. Citizen’s knowledge levels, attitudes and perceptions are a window to determine the level of buy in to the policy, and ultimately its success”.

Zim Asset, a five year plan, is yet another economic blueprint that was rolled out to citizens after the ZANU PF ‘landslide victory’ in the 2013 harmonized elections. It is the first post 2013 election economic blueprint formulated by the government to achieve an “empowered society and a growing economy”.

However since its inception the policy has brought little change to the lives of many Zimbabweans. Instead, living conditions have worsened; company closures and unemployment have increased.

Report findings are that “whilst the name Zim Asset might have gained popularity on social media, there exist a dearth of information as to what Zim Asset really is, how it is going to bring economic turn around and the roles of the different stakeholders”.

Media Centre Director Earnest Mudzengi reiterated the need for government to engage civil society organisation in policy making, “civil societies have information and resources to assist in policy making and implementation. However, the government is not keen to engage these organisations on the thinking that there are anti-government”

He also said failure of previous policies was partly because government failed to engage necessary stakeholders, “failure is partly on lack of consultation not only on civic organisation but on other stakeholders”.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute in its report recommended that beyond Zim Asset there is need for the government to ensure citizenry engagement in policy making and implementation so as to achieve accountability, transparency and active citizenship.

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