Kick-starting the Post-2015 Debate in Zimbabwe

15 May 2013

image Growth rates in Zimbabwe's GDP are expected to translate into job creation and poverty reduction.

National consultations on the Post-2015 development agenda kicked off in Zimbabwe with a call to stay the course of fighting poverty through inclusive growth and economic transformation for sustainable development.

At a UN organized MDG dialogue event held on 11 April 2013 in Harare, Government and UN officials, policy makers as well as representatives of academia and NGOs took stock of the progress so far made in achieving MDGs, and the challenges that lie ahead. The discussion, under the theme 1000 days to the Millennium Development Goals deadline and the post-2015 development agenda has heralded the first major national conversation on the Post-2015 development agenda in Zimbabwe.

It was noted that with GDP growth rates of 5.4% in 2009, 8.1% in 2010 and 9.3% in 2011 Zimbabwe is considered one of fastest growing economies in Africa, albeit from a low base. This growth, however needs to translate into poverty reduction and job creation. In fact, youth unemployment is a “political time bomb” not only in Zimbabwe but in the sub-Saharan Africa region, said the secretary of state for economic planning and investment promotion, Dr. Desire Sibanda.

Therefore, inclusive growth or “growth with equity” underpins the country’s development priority, going forward, he emphasized. Zimbabwe has made significant progress in meeting some MDGs, most notably MDG 2 on universal primary education, achieving gender equality in schools and in fighting HIV/AIDS. But with less than 1000 days remaining to the 2015 deadline, maternal health and poverty eradication—amongst other goals—are unlikely to be achieved.

Reflecting on the global MDG campaign, the forum noted that the MDGs are a milestone in the international development discourse. “The Post-2015 discussion needs to recall that MDGs reflected one of the best poverty messaging campaigns” said UNRC, Mr. Alain Noudehou, explaining that the simplicity and structure of MDGs allowed them to endure. This approach, described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the most successful antipoverty push in history, is a lesson that any successor framework should benefit from, said the UNRC.

As in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe’s consultations on the Post-2015 development agenda have started, albeit at a slow pace. However, the release of the national 2012 MDG Progress Report provides a fitting background for this dialogue. The report posits that the post-2015 development agenda should adopt a new approach that seeks to include critical problems that affect all communities such as the plight of the poor, political, social and economic stability, inequality as well as peace and security.

This holistic approach is in line with “triple wins” strategy advocated by UNDP that embraces the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. This would enable the country to deal with environmental challenges, including climate change and access to basic social amenities like access to water, sanitation, and electricity for the urban poor and the majority population living in rural areas. “There is growing convergence between the imperative of environmental sustainability and the necessity of economic growth to achieve long-term development,” said Udo Etukudo, UNDP Economic Advisor supporting the ministry of economic planning and investment promotion.

In a lively question and answer session, Mr. Mufunda of the NGO Caritas, proposed that for development effectiveness, the new framework should be more nuanced and practical. “For instance, how can you measure aid effectiveness?” he posed, referring to MDG8 on developing a global partnership for development. Other panellists listed access to information technology, the democratization of trade regimes and enhancing global partnerships as topping the list of “unfinished business” in the Post-2015 development agenda.

The meeting proposed to form an Inter-Ministerial Committee to guide the preparation of a country position on Post-2015.