EDITORIAL COMMENT: Shame on you government

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Shame on you government | The Financial Gazette August 18, 2016

A STATE-RUN daily had a screaming headline on Saturday which read: “PHD to build 46 000 houses.” It was reported by the daily that Prophet Walter Magaya of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries has embarked on an ambitious project that would see 46 000 houses being built in four cities, with an estimated 3 000 jobs being created in the process of rolling out this grand vision.
While we would like to commend the cleric and his young ministry for this sterling effort, we cannot help but say shame on you to our government whose toxic policies have destroyed private enterprises that should have been spearheading such initiatives.
In a normal economy, churches rarely concern themselves with housing projects of this magnitude unless if it is meant to accommodate their clergy or flock. Theirs is to nurture and nourish the spiritual growth of their members and non-members alike. Theirs is to widen their nets to expand the stock of believers. It is their business to send out “fishers of men” to all corners of the world to spread the word and save lost souls come judgment day.
While they may engage in some form of construction here and there, it’s not their core business to deliver houses to the homeless. It is the private sector which should be spearheading such projects, with support from government, so that everyone could have a roof over their heads.
This used to be the case at some point in Zimbabwe’s history. Back then, companies would build decent houses for their employees. In some of the oldest suburbs, a significant number of houses and flats in these areas were constructed by private sector companies for their employees. Government was also active in housing delivery at the time, but not anymore.
Somewhere along the line, government lost the plot and today the church is now doing much more than a government. How sad!
Very few private sector companies still have the capacity to build decent houses for their staff let alone pledge reasonable security with mortgage lenders to enable them to extend housing loans to their employees. Only a few have been able to empower their workers in this way, but even for these few it has not been easy.
Many companies are worried about their survival, as they are overwhelmed by the enormity of challenges eroding their balance sheets, most of which were brought on them by their own government.
Through its ineptitude in managing the country’s economy, government has placed a huge albatross around the necks of these enterprises, thereby stifling entrepreneurship.
Because of bad politics, centred around populism over pragmatism, we have lost the pulse of business. With companies queuing up to the corporate graveyard and some taking a detour into the informal sector, the only enterprise that is doing well is prosperity gospel which has taken over abandoned factories and converted these into places of worship.
But even the churches might soon find the going tough as government is already looking at ways of re-directing some of their riches into the fiscus.
We, however, don’t believe, government should be chasing after everything that seems to be doing well. It must put in place a workable economic plan based on sound economic policies which can promote production and growth with equity.