In his book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profits and Power, Joel Bakan, Canadian law professor and legal theorist, argues that, “the modern business corporation is created by law to function like a psychopathic personality”. Bakan further contends the following:
The Sunday maverick with GLORia NDORO-MKOMBACHOTO
“That corporations are required by law to elevate their own interests above those of others, making them prone to prey upon and exploit others without regard for legal rules or moral limits.
That corporate social responsibility, though sometimes yielding positive results, most often serves to mask the corporation’s true character, not to change it.
That the corporation’s unbridled self-interest victimises individuals, the environment, and even shareholders, and can cause corporations to self-destruct…”
But governments are no different either.
Like corporations, the interests of the ruling party prevails. Like the corporation, many governing parties in Africa no longer serve the public interest. Like the corporation, governments have transformed themselves into devilish instruments by the powerful with the sole purpose of inflicting harm and untold suffering on the fragmented masses.
Like the corporations, governments are now pathological in the way they operate. They come up with laws and legislation that disenfranchises the citizenry consciously, deliberately and systematically crushing democratic principles, “freedom, rights, and the natural human instincts on which a decent life and even human survival depends on”.
Zimbabwe has become such an unequal society
The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen. As the inequities continue unabated, the most affected remain those at the bottom of society, the majority of whom are women, further exacerbating the feminisation of poverty. Whether we like to hear it or not, Zimbabwe continues to be under siege and exploitation of the security establishment, a substantive minority of bureaucrats, businesspeople and traditional chiefs.
The government just confirmed the US$ is unequal to the bond note
For as long as we can remember, the Zimbabwe government has been telling us that the United States dollar is equivalent and equal to the bond note. The parallel market has been telling us otherwise. The government of Zimbabwe even came up with a law that puts a maximum sentence of 10 years for anyone found with or illegally trading in foreign exchange. Yet not so long ago, the very same government announced that from January 2019 anyone importing a vehicle, must pay all duties in hard currency, the real US dollars. This regulation contradicts what the government would like us to believe, that the US$ is equal and equivalent to the bond note.
There are no US$ being traded freely within the Zimbabwe banking system, so the question that begs an answer is: where does the government think the US dollars for duties are going to be coming from? The banking system in Zimbabwe is awash with RTGS balances which are no longer allowable for payment as duty. Is the government rejecting its own currency, the currency that they would all like us to believe is equivalent and equal to the US$? If that is the case, then why come up with a frivolous law of victimising parallel money changers?
The law of supply and demand continues to rule
The most basic laws in economics, the laws of supply and demand, the most fundamental concept in economics shall continue to dictate whether there are laws and hefty penalties prohibiting foreign currency trading or not. Simply put, the law of supply states that the quantity of a product supplied rises as the market price rises, and falls as the price falls. Conversely, the law of demand says that the quantity of a product demanded falls as the price rises, and vice versa. For as long as the market is desirous of the US$, because it is a currency that buys what Zimbabwe needs from across the border, no amount of penalties, including their severity, will be a sufficient condition to stop trading in US$.
US dollars are available at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for a selected well-connected few. If you fall outside this well-connected deal flow mechanism, as is always the case for the majority, the parallel market becomes a source for securing that which the government has failed to secure for everyone. The only way to kill the parallel market is to drown the market with the real greenback.
Corporations and governments collude
It is important to continue holding up a mirror for both corporations and government so that, if at all, there is capacity and willingness to reflect and introspect, they will start to notice their destructive selves with a view to embarking on ethical behaviour that serves the public good.
Just this last week, a family member was trying to pay another family member $870 bond via RTGS. The money left his account, but was never received in the account of the proposed receiver. A few days later, the money was back in the senders’ account, but it was now $847,60 bond.
The sender initiated the transaction again, and again the money was not received by the receiver. By the end of the week, the money was back in the sender’s account and it was now $829,54 bond. When the sender enquired as to why he was being charged for a service that was not delivered, he was told that the deductions were for the 2% government surcharge on all electronic payments. Here is a customer who did not receive a service from their service provider and yet they end up out of pocket because the corporation colluding with government lacks appreciation of the disservice done.
Bakan alludes to this as “the corporation’s unbridled self-interest victimising individuals”, but when it is sanctioned by government for the benefit of government, then the actions are nothing, but the obsessive pursuit of money and, of course, power by government.
Can the Zimbabwe government act for the public good?
Your guess is as good as mine. There has to be genuine political will. Political will is usually mentioned in reference to the centre of power, and to political decision-makers as the key actors in good governance.
Nearly any political conflict, risk or standstill is attributed to the lack of political will. The problems of Zimbabwe are well-known and documented.
The solutions are simple and with commitment easy to implement. Unless government stops spending, the poor majority are going to continue to be crowded out. Government ought to reconsider its ethical position and restore its original purpose and that is to serve the public interest over the interests of a selected few.
Gloria Ndoro-Mkombachoto is an entrepreneur and regional enterprise development consultant. Her experience spans a period of over 25 years. She can be contacted at email@example.com