Challenges :The Zimbabwe Situation, part 1

The beautifully well endowed country of Zimbabwe is undergoing serious challenges. To name them one by one would take up too much space, but the general challenges have to do with the political-economy of the Southern Afrikan country.

Zimbabwe’s political leaders have been waxing rhetorical about fiscal discipline and the unsupported claim that the volatile country is open for business. The authors of the country’s constitution have made specific provisions for how such discipline can be observed. They involve the active engagement of citizens with their government or civil servants, but the levels of distrust and the toxicity created by high levels of corruption have strained that constitutionally enshrined relationship. Government may call for dialogue but without trust and some visible transformation on the State’s part, such dialogue is another waste of time while the ship continues to sink. By these assertions we do not mean to be pessimistic, it is just that many know exactly how to get the country on the progressive path, it is just unfortunate that the System does not allow real change makers to make their contributions effectively. Somehow we all have to look to the constitution ( as violated as it is), for answers. The bulk of the Zimbabwean challenges can be attributed to a failure or inability to implement policies and allow businesses and other key institutions to be supported to operate in an enabling environment.

Some of the provisions on conflicts of interests are also included in the Public Finance Management Act and the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, yet these provisions are violated by the very people in power.

Public finances in Zimbabwe are still being mismanaged and misused despite the new governments promises and bold pronouncements. There is a popular saying that, ‘the people deserve the kind of leaders they get’, if this has any shred of truth in it, perhaps it is high time to investigate the virtues and vices of democracy and how it is practiced in Afrika, especially in countries where former liberation movements hold power by any means. On top of the challenges that Zimbabwe faces, is the heavy debt the country carries. Standing at about US$17 billion, the country is unable to access loans and to attract investors and new businesses.

The economic meltdown also has various interconnected sources, high among which is a a serious leadership deficit. As I have stated in one of my posts before, Afrika as a continent is not deprived of great minds, highly educated and experienced individuals who form part of various ‘classes’, from government to corporate,entrepreneurial fields as well as in the cultural economic spheres are there. We can all agree that one of the major setbacks for developing Afrika’s potential is corruption and the current states of education systems inherited from a bygone era. We shall expand on this in part 2.

Let us focus for a bit on governance. While it is difficult to ascertain whether Zimbabwe forms a significant part of the what are known as developmental states, whether it is a capitalist economy or a socialist one, or even whether its state of debilitation approaches neither of the above, we have to ask basic questions regarding the role of government in the affairs of the ordinary citizen. We already know that the so called “Free Market”, has its vices and virtues. Many social activists would argue that there are no virtues at all, but is another subject. The point we are making is regarding the levels of governments intervention in the economic sphere. What is the collective impact of the decisions made by businesses in their buying and selling decisions and how do governments help to protect the population from profiteers. In Zimbabwe there is large scale political intervention in industrial affairs.

While ordinary buyers and sellers appear to require governments to ensure that the benefits of the Market are equitably shared,there is also the sentiment that governments should not interfere too much. Governments speak so much of creating opportunities for employment, yet we all know that in most developing economies it is not the State that employs most people, industries and corporations that are mostly privately owned.

The people want the benefits of the Market but look to government to minimize the dreadful side effects that come with it. Ironically or even historically, one persons side effects are another persons sweet accumulation of capital.

In Zimbabwe,or at least in Harare, one can clearly see the glaring disparities in unequal wealth accumulation. Many people view government as the chief enabler or perpetrator of this prejudicial gross inequality. There are those who keep appealing to the conscience of the political leadership while others have become bitter and cynical. The cynicism is understandable when one takes into consideration the state of the countries economy. Many remedial actions have been taken and various socio-political avenues have been undertaken but what remains is the old order of Big Men politics, where the citizens voices are ignored and the States propaganda machinery keeps on selling pipe-dreams and insults to the masses. Can Afrikan governments benefit from allowing the Free Market to operate? Can industrialisation via the latest Chinese models save Afrikan countries from acute underdevelopment? Can the citizens of economically and bureaucratically strained countries such as Zimbabwe emerge with new forms of socio-economic leadership, complete with innovative and inclusive ideological frameworks?

We as Green Ankh Works,believe that people power can prevail over the power of greed. The people in question simply need to be guided. We shall discuss proper guidance in part 2.

 

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