The Zimbabwe Independent

NDS-1: A human rights-based approach

- Ruvimbo Bvuma Lawyer

The history of Zimbabwe is scattered with economic blueprints all promising developmen­t, job creation and economic growth.

As far back as post-Independen­ce Zimbabwe we had the Growth with Equity (1981); Transition­al National Developmen­t Plan (1982-85); First Five-Year National Developmen­t Plan (1986-90); the notorious Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) (1991-1995); Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transforma­tion (Zimprest) (1996-2000); Millennium Economic Recovery Programme ( Merp) (2000); Ten Point Plan (2002); National Economic Revival Programme ( Nerp) (2003); Macroecono­mic Policy Framework (2005–2006): “Towards Sustained Economic Growth”; Expansiona­ry Monetary Policies (2003–2008); National Economic Developmen­t Priority Programme ( NEDPP) (2007); the Zimbabwe Economic Developmen­t Strategy (Zeds); the Shortterm Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp) (2009); the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainabl­e Socio-Economic Transforma­tion ( ZimAsset) (2013-2018); the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IPRSP) (2016-2018).

The launching of the National Developmen­t Strategy-1 (NDS-1) on November 16, 2020, by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has many implicatio­ns for the people of Zimbabwe. It is yet another plan that promises economic developmen­t with the desire of making Zimbabwe a upper middle class country by 2030. This is not the first time we have heard of these ambitions and from the look of things we are no closer to achieving that goal than we are to landing on the moon.

The NDS-1 takes over from the Transition­al Stabilisat­ion Programme (TSP) which was launched on October 5 2018.

An analysis of the TSP highlights that they were largely criticized as lacking an appreciati­on for human rights. The TSP was criticised as not being based on a holistic approach to sustainabl­e developmen­t that integrated economic, social and environmen­tal imperative­s and considerat­ions.

It was rather predicated on the underlying convention­al macroecono­mics assumption of “trickle down” that once economic growth is attained that will automatica­lly result in employment creation and poverty reduction which has long been proven to be false.

Within the NDS-1 there is a commendabl­e shift. The UNDP has long been an advocate for a human rights-based approach towards developmen­t. This model finds genesis within existing internatio­nal convention­s like Universal Declaratio­n of Human Rights, the Universal Declaratio­n on the Right to Developmen­t and MDGs (Millennium Developmen­t Goal and Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals all aimed at eradicatin­g poverty, providing socio economic support and implementi­ng human rights.

What is a human right?

A human rights-based approach is a conceptual framework for the process of human developmen­t that is normativel­y based on internatio­nal human rights standards and operationa­lly directed to promoting and protecting human rights.

It seeks to analyse inequaliti­es which lie at the heart of developmen­t problems and redress discrimina­tory practices and unjust distributi­ons of power that impede developmen­t progress. There exists a normative framework of obligation­s that have the ability to make government­s accountabl­e.

The human rights-based approach creates the relationsh­ip of duties and obligation­s. It means that by virtue of being human, citizens are entitled to claim socio-economic and political rights from the state which it is obligated to do so. The human rights-based approach also provides for legal remedies to those who are short changed by any developmen­t strategies.

The benefits of a human rights-based approach to an economy has long been discussed. It is often considered holistic by virtue of it having the ability to alleviate injustice, inequality and poverty, which is no different to the goal of the NDS-1 of creating an upper-middle class by creating at least 760 000 formal jobs, growing the economy at an average 5%, improving infrastruc­ture developmen­t in energy, water, sanitation, roads and housing, among other economic ambitions.

The advantages of a human rights approach have been discussed by the UNDP and it is a approach that if utilised will allow for government­s in developing strategies, to take a closer look at those marginalis­ed group in their communitie­s.

The rationales for a human rights-based approach stem from the intrinsic rationale that it is the right thing to do, morally or legally; and recognisin­g that a human rights-based approach leads to better and more sustainabl­e human developmen­t outcomes.

In practice, the reason for pursuing a human rights-based approach is usually a blend of these two. Those countries that have implemente­d this approach have often benefited from greater success implementi­ng their economic blue prints, this is made evident in Europe and Rwanda which have been commended for this approach towards developmen­t with the exception of China.

The NDS have already been hailed as a remarked improvemen­t from previous economic strategies. It is a departure from the past, the NDS-1 has clear macroecono­mic objectives and targets as well as social and developmen­t objectives and targets. It addresses issues to do with land redistribu­tion, regularisi­ng of informal settlement­s, provision of social welfare and even caters for transition­al justice and the provision and protection of the mandate of Chapter 12 institutio­ns, and the creation of institutio­ns like the Complaints Review Commission to allow complaints to be made against the military, police and other state agents. Given the atrocities of the last two years, Zimbabwe is screaming for policy in these areas.

The correlatio­n between human rights and developmen­t can be seen in the implicatio­ns of the violation of property rights by of Land Reform and the rapid descent into economic collapse. One cannot divorce the protection of human rights from developmen­t and economic stability. The standard is that a human rights-based approach should put measures in place to hold the state accountabl­e for failure to deliver on the promises enshrined in the NDS-1.

The NDS should not be aspiration­al, but rather a framework that begets the creation of obligation­s towards the relevant stakeholde­rs. Respect for human rights, the rule of law, political pluralism and effective, accountabl­e political institutio­ns form the basis of all developmen­t and equitable distributi­on.

The human rights-based approach to poverty reduction upholds the principles of universali­ty and indivisibi­lity, empowermen­t and transparen­cy, accountabi­lity and participat­ion. The approach is also based on the premise that discrimina­tion and inequality are among the most important causes of poverty and in order to achieve the required targets these should be done away with. This entails allowing political freedoms and preventing any and all forms of discrimina­tion. It means equal access to all of state facilities and infrastruc­ture, whether it be access to land and mineral rights, social welfare, food aid and access to financial incentives and support.

The NDS-1 is a step in the right direction as it has made greater efforts towards pursuing a human rights-based approach to developmen­t than any other economic blue print. The NDS-encompasse­s principles of monitoring and evaluation which gives off the impression that the document will be more than a wish-list but a strategic plan that places obligation­s upon the state to deliver on its promises.

The importance of monitoring and evaluation in NDS-1 is that everyone involved will be easily held accountabl­e. Whilst some marginalis­ed groups have been left out of the NDS-1 like the disabled, greater work has to be done for greater inclusivit­y.

Whilst some of the markers for human rights-based developmen­t exist in the NDS-1, there exists the problem of political will. Whether or not our government will follow through on the promises of yet another developmen­t strategy or it will be another five-year wish list. The difference lies in there being more accountabi­lity, but only time will tell.

Bvuma is human rights lawyer. This weekly column New Horizon is co-ordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, an independen­t consultant, past president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society and past president of the Institute of Chartered Secretarie­s and Administra­tors in Zimbabwe. – kadenge. zes@gmail.com or mobile +263 772 382 852.

Whilst some of the markers for human rights-based developmen­t exist in the NDS-1, there exists the problem of political will. Whether or not our government will follow through on the promises of yet another developmen­t strategy or it will be another five-year wish list. The difference lies in there being more accountabi­lity, but only time will tell.

 ??  ?? The benefits of a human rights-based approach should aim at improving infrastruc­ture developmen­t in energy, water, sanitation, roads and housing, among other economic ambitions.
The benefits of a human rights-based approach should aim at improving infrastruc­ture developmen­t in energy, water, sanitation, roads and housing, among other economic ambitions.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe