Mugabe, Chinamasa at opposing ends

via Mugabe, Chinamasa at opposing ends – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 22, 2015 by Richard Chidza

THE hunt for an economic solution to Zimbabwe’s problems will remain a pipe-dream as long as political problems are not addressed, a group of civil society organisations under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) banner has said.

In its prognosis of the socio-political and economic situation in Zimbabwe that informed the group’s economic document titled ZimSmart, which was set to be launched in Harare last night, CiZC said President Robert Mugabe and his Treasury chief Patrick Chinamasa are at opposing ends of the ideological spectrum making it almost impossible to achieve the desired goals of a turnaround.

“In the past, the economic debate has been made in binaries that pitted market capitalism against socialist tendencies. Even in Zimbabwe’s current government these contradictions are evident, with, for instance, the Minister of Finance — Patrick Chinamasa — seeking to work more closely with the Bretton Woods institutions through market-driven economic policies, while at the same time being checked by populist moves by the national President (Mugabe),” the document said.

CiZC cited Zanu PF’s Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) meant to reverse the downward spiral, pointing to its major weakness.

“ZimAsset’s main weakness is the failure to explicitly recognise that constitutional democracy, the rule of law and economic development are mutually reinforcing in the 21st century, especially in the context of Southern Africa’s geo-politics,” it added.

As part of wide-ranging reforms, the document proposes that government rather than participate in economic activities should play a “facilitatory role in the economy, enhance real sector performance and currency stability”.

“Precisely we propose enhancing the fiscal space through adopting a sustainable debt strategy, re-prioritisation of expenditure; restructuring State-owned enterprises, rationalisation of the size and structure of the government, taxation reforms, promoting domestic investment, leveraging remittances from the Diaspora, attracting foreign direct investment and re-engaging the international community,” the lobby group said.

CiZC also argues that “politicians and bureaucrats must be subjected to a high standard of professionalism, accountability and the law. Without upholding a constitutional democracy and the rule of law, any economic policy is bound to fail in the 21st century especially within the context of Southern Africa’s geopolitics”.

It added that Zimbabwe’s economic problems were worsened by, among other things, “professional decay of State economic institutions, failure to democratise the politics, breakdown of the rule of law and disregard of property rights, among a litany of misdemeanours including the ‘will to power’ rather than the ‘will to transform’.

“We restate that in the current global wave of democratisation in Southern Africa, without a functioning constitutional democracy, sustainable economic development is not feasible.”

CiZC said civil society would, going forward, submit to the nation a “menu of smart economic ideas” that could help Zimbabwe resuscitate the economy under the current political situation.

“The overarching vision is to see a democratic-developmental State and the goal is to create a social market economy; the fundamental idea is based on the progressive principles of a free market economy but augmented by active State intervention in co-ordinating, facilitating and providing support and supplemented by a caring government that ensures the social protection of all its citizens,” said the group.

CiZC’s policy proposals come hard on the heels of pronouncements by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru through her People First political outfit as well as former Finance minister Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party.

The main opposition MDC-T argues its own policy proposals launched prior to the 2013 elections are still sound enough and would change the country’s fortunes if implemented.