By Dr AUSTIN MWANGE
TODAY, Wednesday April 21, 2021, the ruling Patriotic Front launches its 2021 – 2026 manifesto. The purpose is to market this manifesto to Zambians for the 2021 Presidential and General Elections. Therefore, it will be better to provide a general review of the PF Manifesto for the period 2016 – 2021 which has run concurrently with the Seventh National Development Plan.
What is a political manifesto? According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.”
And the UK Parliament defines a manifesto as “a publication issued by a political party before a general election. It contains the set of policies that the party stands for and would wish to implement if elected to govern.”
It is also worth noting the following synonyms for the work “manifesto:” philosophy; strategy; programme; policy; declaration; and statement. The key ones that we shall use interchangeably in this article are philosophy and strategy.
Having understood that manifesto may also mean strategy, we shall attempt to put to test the PF 2016 – 2021 strategy using the three tests of a winning strategy or manifesto.
Originally, these three tests were used to test strategies for profit-making organisations, but now can be used to test a strategy for any organisation including political parties – such as a manifesto for a political party.
The three tests that a winning strategy/manifesto must pass are:
1. The Fit Test – Does its exhibit fit with the external and internal aspects of the firm’s dynamic situation? In respect of the PF 2016 – 2021 manifesto, it can be noted that despite the country going through various economic, social and health challenges, the implementation of the manifesto to the letter was done. The promotion of inclusive policies was followed. The case in point is the social cash transfer programme and the Fertiliser Input Support Programme (FISP).
2. The Competitive Advantage Test – Does it help the firm achieve a sustainable competitive advantage? It can be noted that throughout the period of the implementation of the 2016 – 2021 manifesto, the PF has remained a party of choice and it has continued to grow from strength to strength.
This could be attributed to its robust, unmatched and fearless implementation of inclusive and poverty reduction policies as outlined in the Seventh National Development Plan.
The PF remains has achieved sustainable competitive advantage as can be noted by the notable politicians who have joined or rejoined the party during the last five years that include Dr Canctius Banda (a former UPND Vice-President and renowned political strategist); Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba who had a stint as Vice-President of UPND and running mate; Miles Bwalya Sampa who rejoined the PF after forming his own party and having a marriage of convenience with the UPND in 2016; and very recently the PF had the miraculous joining of their party by two key members of the UPND – Charles Kakoma and XXXXXX Belemu.
It was also announced that one of the country’s renowned thought leader in education – Professor Geofrey Lungwangwa applied and got adopted to contest his parliamentary seat on the PF ticket. The party continues to attract members from all walks of life including the intelligentsia.
It is worth noting that it is not easy to attain sustainable competitive advantage like the PF has done in its 10 years of leadership. The PF manifesto in respect of passing the sustainable competitive advantage has passed the VRIN/VRIO Test.
The VRIO framework is a strategic analysis tool designed to help organisations uncover and protect the resources and capabilities that give them a long-term competitive advantage (In the coming articles, we shall analyse the PF as a party using the VRIO/VRIN Analysis). In the meantime, it is worth noting that VRIO is an acronym for a four-question framework of value, rarity, imitability, and organisation.
There’s no doubt that PF is one of the most progressive political parties in the country, and its success arguably stems from a sustained competitive advantage in inclusive economic growth and development policies
If we were to break down PF’s VRIO framework from the human development perspective, it might look something like this:
Value: The PF has invested heavily in human capital development projects. PF has been involved in the expansion of human freedoms to live long, healthy and creative lives and to actively participate in shaping equitable and sustainable development.
Rarity: The PF remains a rare party as it is a party that has attempted to implement inclusive economic development policies amidst hard economic challenges due to climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. If it were for other political parties, they could have implemented austerity measures without a human face. But for PF, human development is non-negotiable even as they negotiate for a bailout package with international financial institutions. This is even clearly outlined in the Economic Recovery Programme.
Imitability: It is clear that the PF strategy-making; strategy-execution cannot be copied. This is what also significantly contributes to is sustainable competitive advantage since its formation.
Organisation: The PF is organised to capture value from this capability. The PF Central Committee which is an engine of the party seems to have a magic key of how to manage the party even under very difficult circumstances that it has passed through.
The PF emerged victorious despite having about 21 rebel MPs; the passing of its founding leader late President Michael Chilufya Sata and the intraparty fight for power that followed was another iceberg that the party survived the departure of notable PF members such as Chishimba Kambwili; Harry Kalaba; and others was another turbulence that the Central Committee managed to cool – the rest is now history has Chishimba Kambwili and his followers such as Mwenye Musenge and others are already in a progressive working alliance with the PF.
The slanderous corruption campaign against the PF by the opposition seems to have died a natural death. It seems there is just something so unique about how the PF manages natural and artificial created political storms by the opposition within and outside the PF.
3. The Performance Test – Will it produce superior performance as indicated by the firm’s profitability, financial and competitive strengths, and market share? In respect of the 2016 – 2021 manifesto, the PF under very difficult economic circumstances, it has achieved its strategic, organisation, financial and inclusive goals.
The improvements in Zambia’s HDI reflect positive developments in health, education and living standards over the years. School enrolment has greatly improved and more children now more than ever before enter Grade 1. School attendance has equally improved and now stands at 83.1 percent for primary school, 85.7 percent for junior secondary school and 65.3 percent for senior secondary school.
The proportion of the literate population has been rising for both men and women over time. However, the female literacy rate (86 percent in 2010) is still below the male literacy rate (91 percent in 2010). Life expectancy at birth was 51.2 years in 2010 against the projected 54.2 years as at 2017.
With regard to rural/urban distribution using the same sources, as at 2010 rural areas recorded a life expectancy of 51.7 years against 54.0 years projected in 2017, while in urban areas life expectancy increased from 50.8 to 51.7 years.
Income per capita in Zambia has also been largely on the rise over the years and led to the transitioning of Zambia from a low to a lower middle-income country in 2011.
Expectations from the 2021 – 2026 PF manifesto
Having generally looked at what has made PF reach this far, it is also important to look what to expect from the 2021 – 2026 PF Manifesto/Strategy.
There is no doubt that a key factor in modern democracies’ legitimisation is the extent to which policies submitted for public approval before an election translate into material outcomes once a political party has won power.
It is evident that the 2016 – 2021 PF manifesto has been implemented beyond expectations looking at the negative impact that global economic misfortunes have had on Zambia. As for the 2021 – 2026 PF manifesto, it is expected that an account of its economic and social performance during the said period will be provided.
Thereafter, the strategic areas for the next five years will be outlined and mostly they will centre on reducing poverty and vulnerability; and promoting inclusive human development policies within the framework of the 5Ps of Sustainable Development Goals which are: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships.
Not forgetting that the PF strategy itself will also apply the 5Ps of strategy for it to be sellable to the electorates, and these 5P’s of Strategy Plan, Pattern, Position, Perspective and Ploy (These will be addressed in future articles).
All in all, it is expected by the Zambian people that the PF being a ruling party should provide a manifesto that is based on evidence having implemented two manifestos so far. Therefore, the 2021 – 2026 will be the third one they are presenting to Zambians.
It is for this reason that this manifesto show be about HOW:
• How to position the PF in the Zambian electoral marketplace?
• How to attract both PF and non-PF voters?
• How to compete against rivals such as the UPND and others?
• How to achieve the PF’s performance targets in the next five years?
• How to capitalize on opportunities to attain economic growth, sustainable and inclusive growth?
• How to respond to changing economic and market conditions as was the case with Covid-19 and other economic shocks?
The article continues next week with a detailed review of the PF 2016 – 2021 manifesto.
*The author is a thought-leader in strategy, finance, economics, leadership and management. The views expressed in this article are personal views of the author. They in no way represent the views of the institution he works for, and those he is associated with.