HomeOpinion & AnalysisThe fog has lifted

The fog has lifted

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Patrick-Chinamasa

By comparison, world leaders reproduced their “wooden speeches” (without conviction of course) that leave them more divided and escaping accountability. “The world”, the opinion piece noted, “is better off when leaders act in their nation’s best interest. And “civilisation is best served when leaders also act in the best interest of their region and that of the community of nations”. Regrettably the piece concluded, “That (however) requires leadership”.

Patrick Chinamasa has decided to act in Zimbabwe’s best interests, in Sadc’s best interests and in the best interest of the community of nations. Instead of just being an ordinary manager, he has taken on the burden of leadership. But he needs not be coy about it. He must open up and espouse his debt resolution strategy, warts and all. That it is going to be painful to the ordinary Zimbabwean, there is no doubt. Austerity always is.

The fog must also lift between the masses and government and between the legislature and the Executive. It must lift between the security services, which seem to pull the strings in government from behind some curtain, and the people. It is not enough nor desirable for it to only lift between one faction in government and the IMF.

The IMF was exuberant after its recent talks with government in Harare, promising considerable progress at the soon to be held WB and IMF Lima conference in Peru. At that meeting the Zimbabwe’s sovereign debt resolution proposals will be tabled for discussion with the nation’s creditors. So bold must be the proposals to make IMF that giddy.

But asked what the proposals were, Chinamasa was coy and evasive. He felt he had to discuss and no doubt wishes to conclude the discussions, before ramming the outcome down the parched throats of the masses that elected his party to government. That is wrong.

Takura Zhangazha, writing in NewsDay (October 1, 2015) called this “the commandist structure of our (Zimbabwean) culture”. He elaborated: “Things generally come from the top and by way of instruction or coercion (most repugnant) are given to the masses as concluded frameworks”. Strong words, but true. This primitive culture must be culled.

Chinamasa and company, represent the masses. The masses are their clients. Before tabling a national debt resolution strategy to the nation’s debtors, the nation must be fully informed of the strategy. Parliament should have discussed it thoroughly and its wise counsel taken on board before Chinamasa and his delegation leave for Lima. That is the way to do things properly.

The Greek leadership had to seek the mandate of the electorate several times within a short period, as it discussed the same subject with its Eurozone colleagues and the IMF. Our leadership should do the same. That is democracy. Chinamasa, who is a lawyer, and knows enough about client-lawyer relationships, should need no persuasion.

Transparency, accountability and trust are hallmarks of client-lawyer relationships and indeed patient-doctor ones. The same is expected of government-electorate relationships as well, not the (crooked) master and servant relationship that obtains in this country as World Economic Forum rankings suggest. The government and the people must find each other. That is why the war of liberation was fought.

To help build a united front, thus mitigate the political risk to government that such a debt resolution strategy generates, briefing the opposition adequately and seeking its buy in is best practice.

The opposition’s advice too, if given in good faith, as it should, ought to be heeded. A walk down memory lane candidly examining how the country fell into the debt trap could be educational for all.

Guided by the evidence, Parliament could then legislate against such folly in future. This approach would give Treasury and government a solid mandate before the Lima deliberations.

There will be noisy opposition to reforms that get the IMF excited, not least from the divided ranks of the ruling party and within Cabinet itself. But the time for the debate has come. It is time for blue sky thinking.

It is common cause that all bloated structures must be trimmed and some abolished to create fiscal space for funding genuine and necessary structures. “Ghost ministries” such as the one of Youth Indigenisation and Empowerment, for example, are a poor and expensive duplication for the genuine youth empowering ministries of education, health and child care, agriculture and the industry cluster including mining, energy and transport. Why should the Minister of Finance be shy or coy to put that across to the people?

lTapiwa Nyandoro can be contacted on nyandoro.osbert1@gmail.com or feedback@newsday.co.zw

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