About the Publication:
This new publication, launched in June 2019, puts a spotlight on a fresh outlook on democracy for Zimbabwe. The publication, called “Towards an Open and Accountable Government: Context and way forward for Zimbabwe” was launched by NewThinking in partnership with Zimbabwe Institute. It focuses on principles of openness, accountability, and participation as being grounded in the belief that democracy goes beyond the ballot box. These principles enable citizens to be at the center of legislation, service delivery and to shape policies that affect their lives. It provides an analysis of possible opportunities to advance open government reforms in order to achieve participatory democracy in Zimbabwe. These reforms encourage openness to allow citizens to be active participants in their country.
For three decades Zimbabwe’s political and administrative system was characterized by high levels of centralization and decline of the country’s democratic life. This decline is reflected in the Mo Ibrahim Index that scores Zimbabwe 44 out of 100, ranking 39 out of 54 countries. In their “New Dispensation Strategy Document, the current administration highlights these principles as values and reforms they aspire to achieve. They promised to usher new hope, to put in place citizen-focused policies and measures as reflected in the strategy document. However, that hope is yet to be fully realized as the country continues to face numerous governance and socio-economic challenges such as fuel shortages, high inflation and poor delivery of social services. It should be noted that the 2013 Constitution establishes clear standards for reforms that can encourage more openness, inclusivity, and participation. It makes a commitment to move towards participatory democracy, transparent governance and holding government to account.
“Towards an Open and Accountable Government: Context and Way Forward for Zimbabwe” discusses critical steps that need to be taken by the government and parliament in order to achieve openness, inclusion and participation in Zimbabwe:
To strengthen and empower Chapter 13 institutions to become impartial gate-keepers of participatory democracy and protect citizen’s right to access to information;
To establish a decentralization governance architecture that is inclusive and allows for equal participation of citizens;
Establish a multi-stakeholder platform to drives governance reforms, which should include government, civil society, trade unions, parliament and private sector;
Demonstrate high level political will-power to address grand and petty corruption. Parliament, media and citizens all need to be empowered to monitor, investigate corruption and for the judiciary to prosecute perpetrators especially politically exposed persons (PEP).
The publication, takes lessons from countries such as Nigeria, Ukraine, Paraguay and Brazil that are becoming global champions in implementing reforms that enhance inclusivity and participatory democracy. There is clear evidence that implementing open government reforms, saves government money, builds trust with citizens and business as well as improving service delivery. The examples serve as a critical resource for government reformers, civil society and private sector that seek to advance open government reforms.
The challenges the country faces are daunting, but the solutions are clear and require political will power. The vision and recommendations presented in this publication provide a guide for government and other stakeholders to advance open and participatory governance. Implementing these reforms will mean moving from just shared intent to ensuring that the promise of democracy and efforts to strengthen and advance it, become the norm in Zimbabwe.