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Locals can learn from China’s model of poverty elimination – NewsDay

From Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping … It is widely understood that Mao Zedong laid the foundations for much of China’s broad-based economic progress.

RESPECTED Chinese philosopher, Confucius, is reported to have once said that: “The three main responsibilities of government are to provide enough food, sufficient military equipment and maintain the confidence of the people in the ruler”.

When asked of the order of importance, it is said that, he went on to state that, military equipment could be abandoned first, then food, but never confidence in the ruler. In his perspective, the people’s assurance in the ruler, is the very foundation of the state, without which, it cannot exist. Thousands of years after Confucius, these remain as some of the key principles which influence the Chinese government’s administration.

China’s ability to take about 770 million citizens out of extreme poverty, from only 1978 to 2013, shows the conviction of the country’s leadership in providing a decent living and retaining the trust of citizens.

However, by 2014, there were still about 100 million people left behind. As a result, President Xi Jinping introduced the Targeted Poverty Alleviation (TPA) programme, which fulfilled the objective of taking those (100 million) citizens out of absolute poverty. The TPA ran from 2014- 2020.

As a result of its success, by the end of 2020, there were essentially no people in China living in extreme poverty (on less than US$1,69 per day). It is crucial to also highlight that China’s poverty line is lower than the World Bank’s US$1,90 per day, since the dollar has greater buying power in China than in other countries.

If the Zimbabwean government is similarly eager to reduce domestic levels of poverty, then it will prove useful for local policymakers to understand the Chinese experience.

From Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping

It is widely understood that Mao Zedong laid the foundations for much of China’s broad-based economic progress. His controversial land reforms, massive literacy campaigns and health reforms, resulted in higher productivity and inclusive economic growth, especially in the years after his reign.

When Deng Xiaoping became president in 1978, he focused on improving the country’s productive capacity through reducing government-control on prices, foreign investment, state-owned enterprises, etc.

The reforms were also a great success, and enjoyed beyond his leadership’s tenure. Resultantly, from 1978-2017, the Chinese economy grew at an average rate of 9,5% per year. This means that, it grew in size by almost 35 times during that period.

The number of people living in abject poverty also sharply decreased from about 770 million in 1978 (80% of the population, that time) to 100 million in 2014 (7% of the population, at the time).

With only 7% of people living in absolute poverty, the Chinese government could have focused on more ambitious goals such as maintaining robust economic growth. Nevertheless, in order to make concrete the citizens’ trust in the leadership, the Chinese government went on to introduce the TPA in 2014, which was aimed at addressing the vulnerable 7%.

Targeted poverty alleviation

Cadre deployment and funding: In China, political party cadres are not promoted without prior evaluation. This means that in order for one to rise through the ranks, they have to prove their abilities, first. As a result, more than three million cadres were dispatched to participate in the anti-poverty (TPA) campaign. Most of these were assigned to the rural and remote parts of the country, since that is where deep poverty was mostly present.

The cadres had to survey citizens, reside in the same areas as the poor residents (most of which were decrepit), gain their trust, study the context of localised poverty, prescribe solutions, mobilise resources from government and ensure that the resources were applied to sustainably lift the living standards of the poor residents.

Their performance was evaluated using scorecards, which assessed metrics such as income per capita of the rural citizens, portion of population in poverty, etc.

Since it was a targeted campaign, each poor person in the country was to be identified, tracked and assisted. At the launch of the programme in 2014, almost a million party cadres (800 000) were sent to survey every household across China.

In 2015, more than two million followed-up to verify the accuracy of the data collected by the initial surveyors. Thereafter, three million party cadres were sent to live in poor villages, forming 255 000 teams, which were resident on-site.

Every poor household was assigned a cadre. The cadres lived in those humble places for between one to three years. To prove the risks, which the cadres encountered, China’s State Council Information Office reported that more than 1 800 party members and government officials lost their lives during the campaign.

It is also reported that during the period of the TPA campaign (eight years), President Xi Jinping made about 50 trips to inspect progress being made, in the poorer parts of China. That is equivalent to about one trip each two months. This would also translate to many more than he made in support of any other initiative. 

In the Zimbabwean context, the ruling party, may find it worthwhile to similarly use an appraisal system as a basis for promotion. Clearly, when there are performance metrics to be fulfilled, cadres will be conditioned to deliver results.

Assuming that the goals of the party are completely tied to national development, this would translate to progress in the country’s development plans, such as NDS1, for example. It is certainly time to go beyond promoting party members based on how well they can declare the party’s “slogan” or how much they can dance.

Funding: The TPA made a noticeable dent on government finances. Some experts maintain that the commitment of both human and financial resources towards the programme may have slowed China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in the same period.

If the Chinese government had prioritised economic growth (GDP), the nation would have achieved notable milestones at a global level. However, governance in China seems to be based more on the overall good, instead of success for a few.

The government made direct expenditures of ¥1,6 trillion (US$218 billion) over the course of the initiative. Additionally, loans of ¥9,2 trillion (US$1,2 trillion) were also made for targeted poverty alleviation purposes. This includes ¥450 billion (US$61 billion), in guaranteed micro-credit to, mostly impoverished women. It is reported that a total of ¥14 trillion (US$1,9 trillion) was spent, during the campaign.

Since this figure is more than 15% of China’s GDP in 2017 (halfway through the programme), this shows the commitment that the CPC had towards the campaign. Tellingly, Zimbabwe will need to firstly achieve a level of economic growth which can create such fiscal space (Treasury’s capacity). Macroeconomic stability will also be crucial in order to emulate the Chinese anti-poverty efforts. This means that, price and exchange rate stability, are also a foundational requirement, before such programmes can be successfully executed.


Five key strategies were employed to achieve the goals of the TPA. These cover the following areas: industry, relocation, ecological compensation, education and social assistance.

Industry refers to the provision of infrastructure, skills-training, productive equipment, new markets for local products and access to financing (loans, microcredit and subsidies). Poor villagers were capacitated to practice commercial agriculture, manufacture goods and build modern SMEs. Government-guaranteed debt from private institutions was made available. Additionally, after the initiative, 98% of the villages had access to fibre internet connectivity. This means that they could also sell their commodities on major online platforms. The overall impact of this was that the poor, especially those in rural areas, became highly productive (financially).

Relocation was mostly for citizens in areas where infrastructure and economic development were unthinkable. These were hostile and precarious natural environments such as deserts and hills. In such cases, entire settlements and villages were relocated. In that regard, 9,6 million people were relocated in 2,66 million new housing units, as part of the initiative.

Ecological compensation largely focused on reforestation. As a result, since 2013, 4,97 million hectares of farmland in poor areas, were converted into forests and grasslands. Consequently, a total of 1,1 million people became forest rangers, protecting against loggers and natural catastrophes such as forest fires. Around 23 000 poverty-alleviation afforestation cooperatives were formed. Poverty alleviation, was therefore, mixed with the need to address pressing issues, such as, climate change.

Education. New schools were built whilst existing ones were improved. The quality of education in rural areas was upgraded, with a special focus on the teachers. For instance, the National Training Programme, added an additional 17 million rural teachers to the less developed regions.

Social assistance, includes the Minimum Living Guarantee System, also known as “dibao”. In this scheme, a subsistence allowance of ¥5 962 (US$814) per year is given to those who fit a predetermined criteria. As of 2022, the initiative had about 19 million beneficiaries. Basic healthcare insurance for the poor is also now over 99,9% as facilities and healthcare workers have been assigned to virtually every area where there are citizens.

As can be noted, lessons abound from the Chinese experience on how the Zimbabwean government may design its own responses to domestic poverty.

Innovation will also be vital since Zimbabwe does not have as much capacity to fund some key anti-poverty projects, when compared to China.

For example, in order to encourage rural infrastructural development, free or discounted title-deeds may be issued to those willing to construct, high-value commercial or residential structures.

Rural dwellers may also be urged to engage in export agriculture, which has more rewards than the typical grains.

Moreover, secondary schools could be expanded into vocational training centres, where locals learn practical, income-generating skills.

Overall, macroeconomic stability and economic growth will be key in order for Zimbabwe to make significant progress in the fight against abject poverty.


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Govt overhauls vocational training programmes – NewsDay

The new strategic framework for the modernisation and transformation of vocational training systems has already been approved by Cabinet, Youth Empowerment and Development minister Tinoda Machakaire said yesterday.

GOVERNMENT is overhauling vocational skills training at its centres across the country to ensure that graduates meet the demands of the current job market.

The new strategic framework for the modernisation and transformation of vocational training systems has already been approved by Cabinet, Youth Empowerment and Development minister Tinoda Machakaire said yesterday.

Machakaire made the remarks while addressing 1 501 graduands from Magamba Vocational Training Centre in Manicaland province.

He said the new framework would facilitate the review of skills training and programmes to modernise the vocational training system (VTS) and transform vocational training centres (VTCs) into modern centres of excellence.

“The framework which was developed through wide consultations will facilitate the review of the skills training system and programmes to modernise the VTS and transform VTCs into centres of excellence,” he said.

“The VTCs are expected to provide relevant skills for youth empowerment and the socio-economic development of the communities which these VTCs serve as required by Heritage Education 5.0.”

Education 5.0 is a five-mission model of teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation.

The VTCs have a mandate to develop an entrepreneurial and self-reliant culture among the Zimbabwean youth.

Machakaire pleaded with industry and commerce to support VTCs in their communities as part of their corporate social responsibility to contribute towards the youth economic empowerment agenda.

“The youth empowerment agenda requires the concerted and collaborative efforts of us all — government, development partners, the private sector and community leadership in general,” he said.

“Vocational training and skills development is one of the youth development and empowerment strategies that my ministry is pursuing as an integral cog in Zimbabwe`s industrial development agenda.”

Machakaire, however, admitted that VTCs were facing various challenges related to underfunding.

“I have been informed that some of your challenges include dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate staff, obsolete tools and equipment including the unavailability of reliable vehicles,” he said.

“This strategic framework which is to be implemented should adequately deal with the above challenges.”

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Muckracker: The sandy journey to democracy – NewsDay

It was reported that Tendai Biti, one of the country’s angriest men, is unhappy because of some parody social media account.

MUCKRAKER, like most patriotic people across the country, is still recuperating from the vigorous exertions of dancing in the sand last weekend.

In case you have been hiding under a rock, probably hiding from sanctions, the absolute geniuses in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) organised musical galas recently, which were meant to celebrate the environmental destruction of the country’s longest river, Save.

The Siltation Gala drew thousands of imbibers, who debauched their way through the balmy night and danced away on what used to be a river.

According to the OPC: “Save Beach Bash! Strategic Communications, Presidential Communications, Zimbabwe. Communicating to give impetus to the programmes and projects that contribute to the attainment of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030”.

Indeed, in that vision, all rivers would have disappeared. At that time, we will be hosting similar concerts. Where we once had roads, we will host the Pothole Jamboree. We have already turned old train coaches at the National Railways of Zimbabwe premises into low-cost accommodation for those with rather urgent personal needs.

Nothing can stop this vision.

Nothing puzzling

Around the country, many people are still scratching their heads in puzzlement after a former minister complained about corruption. It was reported that Dzingai Mutumbuka, a former education minister, found out to his horror that someone in the Deeds Office had found better things to do with his property, transferring it to someone else for a small fee, naturally.

For some reason, Mutumbuka is making a song and dance about this small issue. In fact, shockingly, he claims to have taken this up with the country’s owner.

“I met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and I congratulated him on his achievements, but I told him he will not achieve much if he doesn’t deal with corruption,” Mutumbuka said.

“I am known that is why I am able to fight my case in the courts. What about those ordinary men and women in the streets who are not known? They easily lose their hard-earned properties to such fraudsters.”

Of course, we are sure that Mnangagwa must have rolled on the floor with laughter at such a suggestion. First, what does Mutumbuka mean by “achievements? Secondly, why does he think “ordinary men and women in the streets”? Are they the vene of the country? When did they start to matter to warrant such needless noise?

This Mutumbuka fellow should crawl back to quiet retirement and let comrades eat in peace.

Human exports

Speaking of achievements, the country continues to excel by increasing exports. Among the biggest exports of the country, are human beings.

Once, our previous deceased owner described Britain as “a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses”. Now, we are told by Britain that Zimbabwe is among the top three countries in the whole world in terms of sending people to work in the UK’s health and care work system.

In total, over the past year, some 40 000 Zimbabweans and their dependents left Southern Africa’s fastest growing economy to go and stay in this “very cold, uninhabitable country” and get jobs in care work.

Other countries are trying to copy us. This week, we heard that Pastor Lazarus Chakwera is being congratulated widely for sending 221 young Malawians to work on farms in Israel. The nation congratulates Zanu PF for this massive achievement in growing exports.

We call upon the geniuses in the Office of the President and Cabinet’s Communication Department to speedily host another gala, preferably at our shiny new airport, to celebrate this milestone.


Meanwhile, it’s all hotting up over there in the alleged opposition. It was reported that Tendai Biti, one of the country’s angriest men, is unhappy because of some parody social media account.

It was all to do with an account in the name of one Sengezo Tshabangu, the unemployable lout who now claims to be in charge of the Citizens Coalition for Change. In one post, whoever runs the fake account mischievously claimed that Tshabangu had met Biti for a meal at a hotel. Asked to comment, a frothing Biti told NewsDay: “I’m not interested.

That account must be a parody account that was created by Chamisa and his team. Just check it. I have not met Tshabangu and let me repeat that I am not interested”.

We congratulate Biti for always managing to commit political hara-kiri when his opponents need him to. He has a long, tried and tested history in that department.

French honeymoon

According to reports this week, the Mayor of the Former Sunshine City Lovejoy Chitengu and his deputy Rosemary Muronda are leading a high-powered delegation to the tourist resort of Nyanga to eat as much as they can while they still can.

It is reported that the two, accompanied by 23 other chefs, will spend US$24 000 at a strategic retreat to discuss very important things.

“The objectives (of the retreat) are to find new financial and business partners, expand the network to top-level business contracts, discover and learn best practices from leading” as well as learning about “efficiency towards defined goals and standards”.

We are told the seminar’s theme – there is always a long theme for such events – is “Refining Corporate Excellence and Efficiency towards delivering a Middle Income Economy —Vision 2030.”

Yet, you hear ungrateful residents complaining. They are whining about the fact that “city fathers and mothers” are spending money on hotels, leaving behind a cholera crisis. But these people need to zip their mouths.

Since when do we elect people based on competence? Why are we surprised? Did they show you their qualifications when you voted for them? No. so why the shock? Let them eat on your behalf. What else are they there for?

Jobs, jobs, jobs!

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has flighted advertisements calling on people to sign up to work for the government.

“Are you a recent graduate? Are you between the ages of 19-30? Are you looking for a job? If you answer ‘Yes’ to all three questions then mark this date on your calendar and the venue below: December 6, 2023.

Do you want to work for the government?

Come to the PSC Job Fair for a chance to be considered for employment.”

Muckraker suspects there was a genuine, innocent mistake made by whoever wrote that advert.

It is more likely that they meant to say: “We know you are over 30 and never had a job. Are you desperate enough to sign yourself into slavery? Then come and work for the government”.

The “slavery” part there, of course, refers only to low-level workers.

The rest are the slave drivers who drive 4X4s. Those ones do not need to apply through “job fairs”.

Could this be true?

There were shocking revelations in the trial of Marry Mubaiwa, who was once married to the country’s deputy owner, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

According to one report: “Former health and child care deputy minister Dr John Mangwiro testified in court that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, while admitted in South Africa, received treatment from a veterinary doctor at the insistence of his ex-wife, Marry Mubaiwa.

Dr. Mangwiro revealed that he discovered Dr. Peck was a veterinary doctor after initially being presented as a family medical practitioner by Mubaiwa.”

Calling a vet to treat a whole human? We can only surmise that Marry, in her affection, took the VP’s totem a bit too far.

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Mawaba primary school unveils e-learning classroom block – The Zimbabwe Mail

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Thursday, commissioned an e-learning classroom block at Mawaba Primary School in Lobengula West.

The new facility will provide learners with access to information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The classroom block was renovated for US$5,000 through a collaboration between the school and its parents. The classroom is equipped with 45 laptops, which the school won under a merit award from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony held at the school under the theme, “Empowering Learners Through E-Learning,” Ward 14 Councillor Dumisani Netha, who was standing in for Mayor David Coltart, said that the city of Bulawayo strives to be a leading smart and transformative city by 2024. He said that empowering education through e-learning facilities is essential to achieving this vision.

Netha applauded the school and the parents for putting together the resources to convert the classroom into such a magnificent learning facility.

“This is a befitting facility to train our learners in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as set out in the smart city concept, national outcomes and requirements provided for by the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and Vision 2030,” said Netha.

“We might pride ourselves on providing our children with such remarkable facilities for e-learning, this is because it is a powerful tool in the modern-day learning experiences as it is a convenient and flexible platform for individuals to acquire skills.”

Netha said that e-learning has great accessibility potential as it offers a wide range of courses and resources. “This accessibility ensures that no one is left behind and learners have an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills while being flexible in scheduling and pacing,” he said.

He said that, unlike traditional fixed classrooms with fixed timetables, in e-learning, individuals can balance education with other responsibilities such as home, sports, and family chores. This allows learners to take control of their learning journey, resulting in a personalized learning experience and increased motivation.

“In the face of envisaged high breed learning, we congratulate Mawaba school and credit to all schools with such projects or are in the process of putting up their internet classrooms. The Education Sector Strategic Plan demands that all schools have user-friendly facilities including disability ramps, ECD classroom blocks, and libraries among other facilities,” said Clr Netha.

“I desire to ensure all council schools and others in our beautiful city implement these requirements as we strive for a smart Bulawayo,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Provincial Education Director for Bulawayo, Sibongile Khumalo, congratulated the school for successfully venturing into e-learning, saying that it is a powerful way to achieve good results.

“Schools are encouraged to embrace online learning as we might appreciate, it comes with several benefits. E-learning is about being able to access education whenever one needs to and from wherever one is. Our competency-based curriculum has embraced ICT and the concept of e-learning is topical,” said Khumalo.

She said that the curriculum has seen the transition of education from being predominantly a face-to-face approach to digital learning platforms where a teacher has merely become a facilitator.

“Through e-learning, learners should be able to take responsibility for their educational progress and access the numerous Ministry endeavours to expose them to as much educational material as possible. These include such platforms as online catch-up strategies, e-learning passport, imfundo endlini, and blended learning, just to mention a few, which are all digital learning programs,” Khumalo said.

She encouraged all schools and their communities to make e-learning a priority in their school development committee budgets.

Source: Cite

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