HomeOpinion & AnalysisSundayOpinion: Why the gnu has failed

SundayOpinion: Why the gnu has failed

 

The following examples illustrate this:

From the onset the cabinet was too big. It was meant to ensure that politicians from all parties benefited from government resources. Do we really need provincial governors when we have provincial administrators? These posts should be removed to save money! Surprisingly both Zanu PF and MDC are fighting for these posts.

Government expenditure is not being controlled. Look at foreign travels by ministers and senior civil servants like those in the ministry of Tourism, Finance etc. Huge allowances are being claimed on every trip. They do not want to miss any international conference.

Over-expenditure on low priority areas — When I joined government in 1993 from university in the then Ministry of Agriculture, our director used to drive a Mazda 323. Senior officers would benefit from a car loan scheme from CMED.  The economy was performing much better then. Yet today you find the most classy and expensive vehicles being driven by government officials yet government is claiming it does not have money to pay civil servants who are earning less than US$200 per month! Permanent secretaries and principal directors drive grand Cherokees. Prados, Toyota vigos, mercs and Navaras are all over, including police, army, CIO and prison services.  Government has a penchant for vehicle models assembled outside Zimbabwe dumping the locally assembled Mazda vehicles.

Granted this culture of expensive and classy vehicles was brought by Dr Gideon Gono during the quasi-fiscal operations in false belief, I hope, that he would motivate civil servants as in private sector, forgetting that government is funded through taxes, the MDC has also joined.

 

Probably the inclusive government’s biggest failure has been the poor management of the transition from the Zimbabwe dollar to the multi-currency system. This has crippled the economy.

Government-provided services are too expensive: passport fees, import permit charges, vehicle number plates (US$160!) Environmental Management Agency (EMA) permit to move pit sand (US$250!) TIMB tobacco registration fee (US$20!) This why farmers failed to register, they could not afford! The list is endless. Under normal circumstances these are supposed to be almost free, given that the same organisations and individuals already pay a form of tax.

No effort was done to compare service charges with those prevailing in, say 1997, in US dollar terms or to benchmark with region. Black market rates were simply used taking advantage of monopoly and legislation. What government forgets is businesses take these costs when pricing their products and services and we become an uncompetitive nation, as is the case.

Government must also understand that citizens do not have endlessly deep pockets. Look at vehicle taxes toll fee when entering Zim through borders, toll-gate charges, vehicle licences, a string of fuel levies.

The reason foreign musicians are flocking into Zimbabwe is not that Zimbabwe is that attractive or that they like us. The Beenie Mans, Cappletons, Shawn Pauls etc. It is because in their countries gate charges would be a dollar yet in Zimbabwe they would be US$15 to US$20. Yes, they know we are crazy, we do not understand and appreciate the value of the US dollar.

As expected, the donors are now tired. Our own diasporans can no longer support their relatives home because US$100 has much lower purchasing power in Zimbabwe.

If a father misbehaves, the son is likely to misbehave. This is the same situation with government (father) and local authorities and parastatals (sons). Some of the highest paying jobs are in local authorities and parastatals.

Look at the crazy service charges and license fees of local authorities. How can you have a nation where over 90% of consumers owe money to public utilities service providers?

Like the father local authorities are arrogant and do not listen to advice. Through the blessing of their mayor Muchadeyi Masunda Harare City council has refused to lower salaries and allowances for senior managers. But chickens are coming home to roost as council is now failing to pay its workers.  Ratepayers cannot afford the high rates.

The scenario of taking care of council senior management only at the expense of the common worker is similar to that of government taking care of senior civil servants and ministers.

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