Policy inconsistency: Height of misgovernance


Reports that the government has ordered the reinstatement of a rebate on shoes and clothes are welcome to the public, but are a serious indictment of government policies characterised by inconsistencies.

Reasons for revisiting the policy were in response to a public outcry over the manner in which Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials were handling travellers since the rebate was removed in August last year.

This reversal of a policy effected barely five months ago shows how those in the government rush to implement policies that are neither a result of well-thought-out processes nor people-friendly.

We have seen in the past how inconsistencies in policy result in confusion and economic meltdown, among other things. Such inconsistencies have made strategic planning which is long term impossible in this country.

One never knows which policy will be reversed on the morrow. This gives the country a bad image.
We have had instances where policies have shown glaring internal inconsistencies.

The indigenisation policy is another example as it differs from sector to sector and within sectors. It states that in the mining industry foreigners have to cede 51% shareholding to locals while the manufacturing sector demands 40% of the same.

The Essar deal seems to be an exception as the Indian company has a stake that is more than the stipulated 49% for foreign ownership. Chinese companies are exempted.

It is not yet clear what the shareholding structure in the banking sector is like.

In the education sector, the government is not clear about teachers incentives, whether it wants them to stay or not with rural teachers getting more from the government than their urban counterparts.

In 2010 it was announced that the government would phase out the importation of cars that were five years old and above, but after a public outcry this was reversed.

It is not clear what the government hopes to achieve through such policy inconsistencies. What is clear though is that this has led to corruption and profiteering among a certain clique of looters that thrives on policy confusion.

While this facilitates the growth of individuals pockets, it stifles economic growth leading to the suffering of the majority.

The implementation of such policies that raise concern among the people shows both arrogance and ignorance on the part of our policymakers.

They think it is not necessary to consult relevant stakeholders on policy issues and they seem to be out of touch with peoples reality.

Policy inconsistency is nothing other than the height of poor governance and it must be rooted out if there is to be any meaningful recovery.