Thursday, 6 July 2017

Zimbabwe Elections 2018 Campaign Discourse

With the euphoria and fever gripping Zimbabweans in the run up to Elections 2018, there are many election permutations mutating from the so called learned Zimbabwean electorate and jostling for recognition and popularity. The most trending tactics so far the fatigued meet the people rallies and social media hype gripping the nation though far fetched from reality as the majority of rural and urban voters struggle to survive and feed families oblivious of the mushrooming and shrinking of the political space. Zimbabwe today with over 35 political parties, numerous coalitions and multiple offshoots of Independent and Dependant candidates is enmeshed in a vacuous dilemma!

Like any marketing effort, political campaigns have products that need to be sold and consumers that need to be persuaded.  Unlike selling soap or soda, though, the marketing efforts of political campaigns have much higher stakes:  the product that needs to be sold is the candidate, and the consumers that need to be persuaded are the voters.  The ruling party ZANU PF has been in power for 37 years and is renowned for its use of coercion and violence to instil its visibility and on the other hand MDC T chides itself as the most formidable opposition party credible to claim monopoly in its opposition and cowing itself into alliances and coalitions to position itself strategically.

But one wonders whether most of the candidates understand the basic similarity of this election with product marketing.  What they may not understand, though, is that many of the same tactics that are used to market products are also used to persuade the voters in political campaigns.  One such tactic is repetition.It’s a fact – shoppers will often choose the brand of cookies, soap, hamburgers… or whatever they are shopping for, based on the name they know best.  Sure, quality, price, and packaging make a big difference, but unless the brand name is one of the two or three that the consumer knows best, the product often doesn’t stand a chance of being purchased.

The same holds true with political campaigns.  Voters, like consumers, have only a limited amount of time in their day – and most of it is not spent thinking about politics.  Unlike candidates, volunteers, party leaders and consultants, the voters only think about political campaigns when they are forced to attend rallies, barraged with advertisements on radio and TV as well as mobile devices, receive t shirts and regalia and get coalesced into debates and the like.

Most voters don’t take the time to sit down and reason through the choices they face on the ballot.  Instead, many voters simply go into the polls on Election Day and vote for the candidate whose name they know or recognize.  That’s one reason why incumbents are so hard to beat – they have been in the paper, on TV and radio, at town hall meeting and in parades, so the voters have heard their name before, even if they don’t know what elected office the incumbent holds.

For this reason, campaigns must work diligently to raise the “name ID” of their candidate.  The name ID is the percentage of people who recognize the candidate’s name… who have seen, read, or heard it enough times to know it (even if they don’t know anything else about the candidate).  Before the campaign can connect the candidate with a positive message, or introduce the candidate’s issue or bio to the voters, it must first work to raise the name ID of the candidate.

The key to raising name ID is repetition.  The more times a voter sees, hears, or reads the candidate’s name, the more likely he or she is to be open to the candidate’s message, and to vote for him or her on Election Day.  In short, in politics, repetition is a good thing.  If you can get the candidate’s name in front of each of your targeted voters three, four, or five times, you will be far ahead of an opponent who only reaches the voter once during the campaign.

There are many mass communication ways to get your candidate’s name in front of the voters, including live facebooking, rallies and going door to door, doing literature drops, parcelling out party regalia, getting press coverage, placing newspaper, television, or radio ads, putting up signs, etc.  The campaign should plan on using a combination of techniques for getting the candidate’s name out there and getting the voters to remember it.

In fact, the opportunities for repetition are endless.  Take going door to door, for example.  If you simply go door to door, that would count as presenting the candidate’s name to the voters once.  If the candidate hands out literature as he goes door to door, that reinforces name ID with a second repletion.  The campaign can go even further, though, if it has the resources.  The campaign could mail out a postcard to every home the candidate will visit that says “I’ll be in your neighborhood next week.”  That’s three repetitions.  The campaign can also mail out an “It was nice to meet you last week” postcard after the walk.  That’s four repetitions.  If a group of voters wanted to put up signs for the candidate, a volunteer could drop them off at a later date.  That’s five repetitions.  The possibilities are endless.

A major part of any campaign plan should be getting the candidate’s name in front of the voters through repetition on a regular basis.  By repeating exposure to the candidate’s name, the voters gradually become familiar with him or her and are much more likely to vote for the candidate on Election Day.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


A comparative analysis of Botswana’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to that of Zimbabwe is only achievable by analysing an array of weighted statistical tools and reflecting on past performance trajectory objectively. Botswana just like Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Sub-Saharan Africa with a population of just over two million compared to Zimbabwe’s estimated population of 16million. Botswana gained its independence from British rule in 1966 and at the time perceived as one the poorest nations then with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of only US$70 according to World Bank statistics. Botswana grew from an agro-based country which was contributing approximately 43% to GDP to a diamond mining economy when it discovered vast amounts of diamonds. Botswana’s real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 4, 6% between 1994 and 2011. Its agriculture productivity shrunk from 39% of GDP in 1966 to about 2% today.

In contrast, Zimbabwe got its independence in 1980 after the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in 1965 by Ian Smith as Rhodesia. It was put under international sanctions after this until its independence in 1980. Its growth potential shrunk during this UDI era due to the effects of internal strife and the liberation struggle. Zimbabwe signed the ZIMCORD agreement in 1981 with FDI inflow pledges of US$1, 45 billion economic aid deal of a 3 year period. This generosity from the international community was premised on Zimbabwe’s newly acquired independence and undertakings agreed at the Lancaster House conference in 1981.

Foreign Direct Investment inflows (% of GDP) Botswana


                    Foreign Direct Investment inflows (% of GDP) Zimbabwe

Comparative World Bank figures show that Botswana did not receive any FDI inflows in 1970 and US$393m in 2015 accounting for 2, 7% of GDP whilst Zimbabwe received US$ 18,7m in 1970 and US$ 399m in 2015 which accounted for 2, and 8% of its GDP. Zimbabwe’s recorded a Current Account deficit of US$ 2595.30m in 2015. Overall, Zimbabwe’s current account deficit averaged US$ 576,44m from 1977 with an all -time high of US$ 698m in 1992 and a record low of US$ 3432, 23 in 2013. On the other hand, Botswana recorded a Current Account surplus of US$ 349,64m in the 4th quarter of 2016 and averaged a surplus of US$ 172,15m from 2004 until 2016, reaching an all- time high of US$ 1 102,09m in the second quarter of 2016 and a record low deficit of US$ 365.18m in the fourth of 2008.

A brief comparative economic outlook overview shows that Zimbabwe’s GDP growth declined from 1.1% in 2015 to 0.5% in 2016. It is projected to increase to 1, 3% in 2017 due to the above normal rains as a major boost to this agro-based economy. It endured years of mismanaging and endemic corruption due to sanctions leading to economic contraction which was worsened by a severe hyperinflation and subsequent of the suspension of its national currency in favour of a disastrous multi-currency regime. Resultantly, the economy is experiencing severe cash liquidity crisis which has crowded out fiscal revenue performance. This lack of resources has curbed capital expenditure and social policy interventions, exacerbating unprecedented hardships and poverty in both rural and urban areas. The World Bank forecasted Zimbabwe’s GDP to grow to 3, 7% following a good rainy season characterised by Command Agriculture and firming metal prices. Botswana is forecast to grow by 4, 1% against the Sub-Saharan average of 2, and 6%.

Just like Zimbabwe, Botswana’s was one of poorest countries in the world when it gained its independence in 1966 and relied 60% of its recurrent expenditure on international aid until the 1970s. Its per capita income increased from US$ 70 a year to the current US$ 6 000. Botswana’s extraordinary growth was fuelled by the discovery of minerals especially diamonds from about 1974/75 until recently. Its economic success is most importantly due to the adoption of good governance and economic management policies such as the fundamental respect of property rights and equitable rule of law. Botswana has avoided poor governance ethos such as rent- seeking, corruption, primitive accumulation of assets associated with malignant dictatorships and predatory tendencies. However, it is critical to point out that despite this high economic performance, Botswana’s social gains have stagnated. The proportion of poor people fell from about 50% in 1985 to 33% in 1994 and the literacy rate rose from less than 2% at independence to about 85, 1% in 2011 in contrast to Zimbabwe literacy rate which is estimated at 83, and 6% according to UN statistics.

These are the some of the dynamics that contrasts between Zimbabwe and Botswana and are the key determinants that have seen Zimbabwe struggling to attract FDI. It is important to note that countries that fail to develop remain resource dependent and resource abundance may be correlated with economic growth and development mindful of the fact that these resources are volatile to global prices and get depleted in the long run. The abundance of resources is not necessarily a curse but many countries including Zimbabwe have squandered this natural windfall with Chiadzwa in hindsight. Zimbabwe was weakened by the “government curse” which is a disease of the state claiming ownership of all minerals and subsequently succumbing to the temptation of irrational resource utilisation, rent-seeking, corruption and impunity of the law. Most of these factors are the key ingredients that opposed to confidence and trust that deter FDI across the globe.

Looking ahead, both countries have challenges of divergent magnitude. Botswana needs to invest substantially in its social policy and infrastructure to equitably redistribute its resources and economically empower its citizens. Zimbabwe is economically in a critical state and needs to reform and truly commit itself to be developing its capabilities and wealth creating infrastructure that gives future prospects of sustainability and that can only be achieved with purpose harnessed FDI. It therefore means it needs to be prepared to get work with dirty hands and eliminate the “resource curse” bedeviling its leadership. It means embarking on a cleansing exercise to improving on its principles on governance, rule of law and independence of the judiciary, guaranteeing property rights and build investor trust by reforming and overhauling it's archaic and aged hierarchy. It needs to demonstrate policy consistency without necessarily disenfranchising the spirit and minds that ushered in political independence to triangulate economic independence and social justice. Zimbabwe can draw a lot from learning experiences from around the world even from Singapore and China on dealing with issues of graft, corruption and nepotism that is driving away investors.