We are exactly three weeks away from the elections and we can feel it. Enthusiasts are posting the voters roll online without thinking through the privacy implications and politicians are desperately sending unsolicited and targeted messages to people without thinking how people will react to having their numbers and details in the hands of politicians. Welcome to the elections.
One of the difficult things about voting is that you help choose the country’s leaders but you do it with very little information at your disposal. Not to say the politicians and political parties do not churn out ‘information’ but the problem is these folks talk a great deal and so keeping up and processing all they say is not the easiest of vocations. Worse: how do you even compare them against each other. There are 23 candidates vying for the presidency!
A think tank institution called Sivio has made an attempt to solve that problem for you. They are not trying to tell you who to vote for of course but they wanna help process what the political formations are putting forward as their agenda. Sivio has built a tool they are calling Zimbabwe Manifesto Analysis Tool (ZIMAT).
Did I say manifesto?
Now, manifestos are boring plain and simple and when you have 23 individuals or formations putting forward theirs or an equivalent thing the whole nation might as well get dizzy and snooze. Sivio already went through the manifestos- well five of them. I guess 23 was just too much even for them. They then scored the manifestos across different metrics. Ultimately they want to reveal what the different political parties are pushing for. Some are more about the economy and others about social services and yet others about governance and so on.
Promises and nothing else
Democracy allows us to choose leaders based on what they promise. I wish there was a better way but it is what it is. ZIMAT is also based on those promises. The tool is an attempt to measure and qualify the quality of promises made.
First they grouped the promises
They grouped the promises into nine clusters which they say represent the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people based on their research.
Second they analysed the quality of the promises
They then analysed the quality of the different promises using the SMART framework. They were giving scores based on how specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound each of the promises is. They used this to come up with what they are calling the Sivio Score. You can read about their methodology here.
This is a difficult review
Zimbabwe is a highly politically aware and charged country and hence it’s difficult to discuss anything to do with politics and not be labeled to be belonging to one camp or the other or to have been bought. This makes it difficult for me to really give an analysis of this tool except to say hey check it out for yourself and maybe it can form part of your decision process ahead of the elections.
Do your own research
I also have to add that you need to do your own research. As much as manifestos are boring, I think if you are going to use them as a basis for deciding where your vote gores then reading the manifestos for yourself is worthwhile instead of being content that Sivio read them for you. You can then use the ZIMAT as one of the tools you use to process what you would have read. Mark I said as one of not the only one.
The usefulness beyond the elections
Most of my excitement about this tool is that it will be useful beyond 30 July and beyond the declaration of election winners.
Sivio built a similar tool just after the expiry of the first 100 days of President Mnangagwa in office. The tool they called Zim Citizens Watch tracked all the promises he made and then keeps tally of which ones he has delivered on and which are work in progress.
Before I interacted with this tool, I didn’t realise that the president made 116 promises since inauguration and he has made good on about half of them whilst some others are by nature not overnight ones and yet others are not yet met.
Now, the ZIMAT tool can then transform to become like the Zim Citizens Watch after the election keeping track of all the promises made in the manifesto of the winning party.
This excites me because it makes accountability a daily thing and not just something that pops up every 5 years.