By Vince Musewe
I have recently done a comprehensive analysis for a client on the Zimbabwe economy and the challenges it will face in 2014 and beyond. From my findings, a clear pattern that emerged is that of gross mismanagement and incompetence of this government in steering our economy in the right direction.Every economic sector in Zimbabwe is over regulated and at times contradictory laws have been put in places which nullify progress. A simple example is that of beneficiation of diamonds; we want to polish them but we are being asked to pay USD100,000 for a licence!
This government is regulating industry to death, just as they killed agriculture. The energy sector is in shambles as we are experiencing every day. Mining companies are facing serious challenges of high costs and levies and inconsistency in policy. The financial services sector is a joke, overregulated and in serious strain. State enterprises are petty cash boxes and top heavy, while our city councils are being made inefficient through misguided decrees that hardly take into account the likely social consequences. It's a fiasco.
I have never seen such gross incompetence and misguided enthusiasm by our politicians to act as gate keepers everywhere while stifling progress. One can hardly start a meaningful project without their meddling and bungling. Good ideas are stalled or stolen.
It seems that our government brand of economic policy is not so much aimed at creating a vibrant and growing economy, but rather at entrenching ZANU (PF)'s presence in every boardroom.
In every instance, government policy inconsistencies are sighted as one the major stumbling blocks going forward. Yet we actually pay these ministers salaries, provide them with free accommodation, give them expensive cars among the list of endless perks and privileges. What are we paying them for?
I think that the major reason is that our ministers are political appointments who are expected to serve the party and not the constitution. Delivery is a cherry on top. When did you last hear that a minister was fired because he did not deliver?
We need new governance structures that do away with ministers. Instead, we must appoint secretaries based on the technical knowhow and experience especially international experience. They must be on a fixed performance based contract and recruited professionally worldwide, so that we can capture all the talent that we have in the Diaspora.
They cannot be partisan, must have no conflict of interest and must declare their personal assets. Most of our ministers are businessmen. They must serve the people of Zimbabwe first; they must be accountable to the people and not the party. I think that political parties are overrated organizations anyway. They are mostly driven by egos and favoritism.
Instead, Zimbabweans must unite around a philosophy, a philosophy that acknowledges that we are failing because our governance structures are creating results that work against the aspirations of our people. Our philosophy must be Zimbabwe first; the people come first!
Entitlement to position regardless of the competence to deliver has become a cancer in our society. This is also prevalent in the private sector, where some of our executives hold onto positions at all cost, stifle others and play politics just to retain their position (and lifestyle of course).
In our private sector, we inherited hierarchical colonial structures where the boss is always right while the world is moving towards flatter and more flexible organizational structures. That is why we cannot compete with international companies. Decisions are made slowly if at all and there is an over reliance on government.
Our habits have been copied from our politicians; what monkey see, monkey does.
From sensational claims of bribery in the diamond sector that are soon covered up to business people who lie and make promises they cannot keep. From the con men in suits who sell council illegal stands to unsuspecting residents to married husbands who maintain small houses. From continuous propaganda in the state media that confirms our victim mentality.
From Pentecostal church pastors who make dramatic boastful claims in the press of their wealth, to police who demand US$ 40 from kombi drivers each day; we have indeed become a nation of crooks. From our offices to our churches no one is immune.
The moral and ethical values of our society have deteriorated so much we all need serious deliverance and cleansing.
I am trying to understand why, and I think the root cause of all this was the vivid pictures we all saw in 2000, as "war veterans" invaded farms, bashed the buildings and chased away occupants.
So much stealing and cheating has been done under the name of economic justice, it's shameful. Today it continues unabated and we even have a central bank that refuses to repay what it illegally took from client bank accounts under the banner of protecting the revolution and sanctions busting. What next?
The peak of all this was of course the July 31st elections, which showed us that it is not the best men who wins, but the more cunning one, the one who manipulates the situation to his advantage best while abusing national resources. There is no honor among politicians.
Our foundations as a country are rotten and mark my words; we cannot build anything meaningful on them.
We need to total transformation, a total purge of the psychology of entitlement to position and non delivery. Only after then can we contemplate rebuilding a solid economic base for the future.
Unfortunately economic blueprints will not do the trick.
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org