FOR many years, our public policies and economic reforms have been superficial and lacking in substance. They have been beclouded with politics and implementation bottlenecks, and it is this politicisation of public policies in the past that led to the formulation of some overambitious policies, just to win political capital coupled with excessive bureaucratic procedures.
Guest column: Terrence Muvoti
Given such a precarious state of affairs, frankly, it is time to take a paradigm shift from that narrative, and the politics inherent in policy making processes must be put aside and look at the bigger picture. There is a time for politicking and a time for national development, as the maxim that says “delay is not an option — it is time for action”; corrective measures and solid policies ought to be taken.
This past week has been characterised by runaway prices, acute shortages of fuel and other basic commodities after announcement of the Monetary Policy and the 2% transactional tax. The government has, however, described it as “artificial shortage”. But whether the shortage is artificial or real and whether people are unnecessarily panicking; what remains clear is that “all is not well” and urgent action needs to be taken to address the situation.
What is imperative to note is that the Zimbabwean crisis is not a Ncube and Mangudya “baby” but a Zimbabwean “baby”.
It affects everyone and collective action is needed. History cannot continue to rule us and we cannot continue crying about the yesteryear’s sins of commission or omission. Yes, government expenditure that led to exploding budget deficits, corruption and mismanagement of public finances by the political elite have brought us here, but until when are we going to cry foul? We need to move forward and acceptance is key.
Albert Einstein once said: “The significant problems we face can only be solved at the level higher than we were, when we created them”, thus it’s no longer a time to lay out policies and reforms that are meant to merely please people or make people happy, but policies that are critical to move the country forward regardless of who is/was responsible for the problems. Besides, change is painful; change is never easy, neither is it comfortable.
At this point, the ego dimension of politicians that leads to twist and turns of policies usually for political survival and perpetuation of party interest must be condemned in the strongest sense. The approach to quickly satisfy the demands of the people and formulating policies that provide short-lived solutions and fail to address the actual problem in the long run must be arrested in its infancy.
Many a times, the prevailing economic and political conditions determine the formulation of most policies and it is not surprising that they struggle to achieve set goals due to the “false start” at the formulation stage and inevitably face challenges in the implementation stage; making it difficult to address the major problems for which they are established.
Implementation stage of the policy process is an operational phase where policy is actually translated into action with the hope of solving some public problem, but most policies take place with much difficulty if not total failure, and are usually affected by the politics of the day.
As a people, we have had enough of that circus and it is a time to move away from politics to focus on national development. Our political differences are superficial; we are Zimbabweans and that is fundamental. Whoever holds the keys to the economy and every Zimbabwean of goodwill must come forth to unlock the doors to economic transformation and opportunities, including the retailers who are being naturally predatory when it comes to customers’ wallets, hiking prices to profiteer from this confusion.
It is critical, however, that in doing so, we must be vigilant and guard against unrepentant bandits and crooks, who would want to continue with the old ways of using State funds for self-aggrandisement and looting. Economic reforms and strategies need to be ambitious, action-oriented and collaborative, and to adapt to different levels of development.
Each situation is a combination of continuity and change; the old and tested, and the unfamiliar yet to be tested.
Broadly based on consensus or firmly grounded on the exigencies of political and ideological pressures, necessary and firm decisions have to be taken. After all, decision making is a sine-qua-non for good governance and sustainable inclusive economic development.