Has National Development Strategy 1 failed?

Letters to the Editor

IN 2020, government introduced the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) which was to run from 2020-25, setting the foundation of the NDS2 which was to propel Zimbabwe into an upper-middle income economy by 2030.

NDS1 was a successor to the Transitional Stabilisation Policy (TSP), which failed to stabilise the country from all facets of governance such as social, economic and political.

This is despite praises and claims by the government that TSP was a success.

This makes citizens and policy analysts wonder if government had its own evaluation benchmarks different from the ones prescribed in the TSP document.

The same is already happening with respect to NDS1, the government has already started claiming policy success without satisfying all the demands specified in the policy document's key result areas.

It is now three years since government implemented NDS1, which is expected to end in two years' time yet not even half of the targets set have been achieved.

NDS1 has 14 priority areas namely: Economic growth and stability of national development; food and nutrition security; moving the economy up the value chain; transport, infrastructure and utilities; digital economy; housing delivery; human capital development and innovation; health and well-being; image building, engagement and re-engagement; devolution and decentralisation; youth, sport and culture; social protection, environmental protection, climate resilience; and natural resource management and governance.

To understand government implementation progress, it is critical to give a glimpse of each key priority area performance as presented hereunder:

  • Economic growth and stability of national development: Economic growth and stability remain a fairytale as inflation, exchange rate and currency distortions continue to worsen.

Although government claims that Zimbabwe’s economy has registered growth and stabilised, this is not a true reflection of what is on the ground.

Conflicting and confusing economic interventions from the authorities have undermined market confidence and stimulated public panic.

  • Food and nutrition security: Zimbabwe’s ambition to attain food sovereignty remains wanting, with government failing to stimulate policies to create an optimum environment for food and nutrition security.

The number of those in need of food assistance is clear testimony to food and nutrition insecurity in Zimbabwe.

According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee 2022 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report, about 3,8 million rural households, which translates to approximately 38%, are food insecure, a number that is greatly disputable if one is to consider that more than half of the entire country is in extreme poverty.

  • World Food Programme Zimbabwe says, 42% of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty and a 1,5 million urban population is food insecure in 2023.

Approximately 4,8 million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

  • Moving the economy up the value chain: On this cluster, government has failed to move the economy up the value chain.

This is because monopoly and monopsony are proliferating in Zimbabwe. Small-scale farmers and artisanal miners are being relegated in the value chain.

  • Transport, infrastructure, and utilities: One cluster that is over-celebrated with little to show, notwithstanding renovations witnessed on the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, the Mbudzi interchange, Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, and a few dams.

Public transport remains wanting, the emergency road rehabilitation programmes in local authorities have proven to be insufficient to comprehensively refurbish roads. Hospitals and social amenities are in shambles.

Importantly, on the digital infrastructure front, Zimbabwe is lagging, characterised by weak and poor networks struggling to even sustain 4G at a time when the race to 6G has already begun.

  • Digital economy: The attainment of a digital economy has proven to be problematic.

Government remains sceptical about introducing a digital currency. This is understandable, considering how it is failing to stabilise the economy.

  • Housing delivery: On this cluster, government has dismally failed. The national housing backlog stands at two million, Bulawayo City Council’s waiting list is at 130 000, while Harare City Council's is between 180 000 and 200 000.
  • Human capital development and innovation: It remains wanting as the government is failing to create a conducive environment for its attainability.

Skills flight and brain drain have become the order of the day. The youth are now engaging in drug abuse and are excluded from key decision-making positions, while school dropouts have increased.

  • Health and well-being: National health and citizens’ well-being remain problematic as public hospitals are in shambles.

Drugs, ambulances, cancer machines and other critical health infrastructure are some of the variables that need immediate intervention.

Primary healthcare across the country, although strategic, is incapacitated.

  • Image building, engagement, and re-engagement: Zimbabwe is failing to meet all the targets set under this cluster.

Variables such as Good Country Index, Country Brand Ranking, Global Travel and Tourism, Competitiveness Ranking, and Global Happiness Index were used.

However, none of these set targets were met. Political violence and intimidation were cited by the Commonwealth as a major stumbling block to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement.

  • Devolution and decentralisation: Government is not sincere in implementing devolution and decentralisation.
  • Youth, sport and culture: The youth have been relegated in key economic decision-making.

Approximately 80% are unemployed, 57% are victims of drug abuse, 34% of girls are forced into child marriage.

Child labour and school dropouts are some of the issues affecting youths.

  • Social protection: On the sporting front, Zimbabwe was banned from international football due to government interference, while the country was banned from hosting international matches over substandard stadiums. However, the ban on playing international matches was lifted recently, while that of stadiums still stands.

Social protection is in the doldrums with government failing adequately fund social protection systems.

  • Environmental protection climate resilience and natural resource management: A lot still needs to be done. Mine host communities have been subjugated and become havens of environmental degradation and deforestation.

The Department of Climate Change and Civil Protection is not adequately equipped to handle or facilitate climate


Natural resources such as minerals are being smuggled out of the country at an alarming level, while communities are left with nothing to show.

  • Governance: The governance pillar is in jeopardy as every principle of good governance has been violated.

Transparency, accountability, responsibility, democracy, separation of powers, prudent public finance management and effective public procurement are all wanting.

The implication of those connected to the highest echelons power in gold smuggling as presented in the Al Jazeera Gold Mafia documentary cast a negative spell on the state of governance in Zimbabwe. - Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development

Strategic reflection of the African governance platform

ON the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the operationalisation of African Governance Architecture (AGA), members of the African Governance Platform (AGP) held a strategic reflection retreat from July 9 to 11, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya on the margins of the African Union mid-year co-ordination meeting (MYCM).

The AGA was established in 2011 by an Assembly Decision as “a pan-African platform for dialogue between various stakeholders” mandated to promote good governance and strengthen democracy in Africa, in addition to translating the objectives of the legal and policy pronouncements stipulated in the African Union (AU) shared values instruments.

The strategic reflection retreat discussed the role of the AGP in promoting peace and security as well as enhancing synergy and co-ordination among the African Union Commission, AUC, AU organs, regional economic communities and the regional mechanisms.

Discussions also reiterated the importance of setting the tone for the strategic direction and areas of collaboration and co-ordination over the next five years.

The retreat informed the strategic direction of the platform and identified ways to table the integration and good governance agenda at the MYCM of the AU.

The strategic reflection retreat was an opportunity for members of the AGP to deliberate on avenues to enhance synergy and collaboration in the implementation of the joint flagship projects that promote the ratification and implementation of AU Shared Values instruments, with a particular focus on the African Charter on Democracy and Elections in Africa.

During the retreat, members of the AGP identified flagship projects that are aligned to the fulfilment of Aspirations 3 and 4 of Africa’s Agenda 2063, which calls for “an Africa of good governance, democracy, the respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law” and “a peaceful and secure Africa”, respectively.

As a key flagship initiative, the retreat extended its appreciation to the African peer review mechanism in spearheading the development of the African Governance Report 2023, which was launched on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya, on the margins of the MYCM.

There is need for a renewed commitment to unpack the concept of governance, make it an effective, efficient and unshakeable bedrock to support our member States with their efforts to make peace happen. - AU

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