Walk the talk, be consistent


In life the above goes without saying, knowing the right thing is the beginning and in most cases a lot of us know what needs to be done. Zimbabwe does not suffer from a scarcity of ideas, from the government cascading to individuals, people have great ideas, coupled with high morality levels and convictions. The missing piece is the character, stamina, guts, and the resolve to do the right thing.

Employees know the right thing to do at work, they know that one must come to work on time, do the best level of effort into your work with diligence and serve the customers and the employers, they know that. Workers know that stealing from the company is wrong. Now they even run their own parallel businesses at the premises or the shop of the employer. We can hide behind low salaries, but the truth is we know this is not right, but people are not prepared to do the right thing.

Teachers know that they have a duty for the future generation to do the knowledge foundation, they know if they do not teach, the future for kids is in jeopardy. They know very well that despite issues with their employer who seems to have forgotten them, the kids have not done them wrong, and it is not right to vicariously punish and destroy the future of students. It is no wonder the same teacher can openly invite all their students to come for paid extra lessons after normal school hours as they know the right thing but are they ready to do the right thing and teach our kids.

Our government is not stupid, alas we have some of the best brains in government right now. We have lawyers, professors, accountants, and economists who have lots of experience under their belts. These guys know the right thing needed to make this economy work. Try reading the currency roadmap, the NDS1 documents and it is evident they know the right thing to do. The question is why are they not doing it? I am convinced the government knew that the auction system introduced in 2020 was an excellent idea to re-energize the productive sector, at the same time they also knew that the right thing to do was not to prolong and limit it to few participants at a controlled lower exchange rate. They also knew that the right thing was not to continue the tight grip on the auction rate and allow the premium to the alternative rate to widen above 20%. If you listen to their public statements, they knew this fact, but did they do the right thing then and let it slowly float and reduce the premium? I will wait for the answer, they did not.

I take you back to a few years ago when we had a fuel crisis. Our government knew the right thing to do was to let go of controlling the fuel price, but did they do the right thing, no. They kept a tight hold on fuel pricing and drove the filling stations to empty stocks and long winding queues. I am convinced that they knew all along that the right thing was to let market forces determine the price of fuel and the currency of sale as well as they knew that not all the fuel companies where getting their foreign currency requirements from the auction until finally they let if float and the price jumped and quickly found its equilibrium and fuel subsidies were no longer necessary.

Recently the media reports that the government has initiated a crackdown on government contractors to trace how they used the funds paid to them by the government and ordered line ministries to review contract pricing to weed out forward pricing at exorbitant rates. Fellow Zimbabweans, this is an indicator that the government knew that this was a right thing to do, and they did not just wake up and realise that they are the biggest source of local dollars, and any player on the alternative market big enough to cause swings in the exchange can only be a contractor of government. I am happy, finally the state had the resolve to tackle this head on and do the right thing, which is monitor its payments, pay a certain portion in dollars. The ability of the state to do the right thing which they know will turn the fortunes of this country in no time.

The state knows that for the country to have a good agricultural season, the right thing is to secure inputs before the onset of the rainy season, they know this.

They also know that by August to October every serious farmer should have in stock compound fertilisers and seed and chemicals for instance pre-emergence herbicides.

But are we doing the right thing which is to give those farmers inputs timely? It is no secret that most disbursements run as late as December/January with people still to receive compound fertilisers.

All these musicians, entrepreneurs doing informal businesses know that the right thing is to pay their taxes so that the government can have funds for public expenditures but are we doing self-assessments and paying presumptive taxes.

We are not ready to do the right thing as we are waiting for the government to be responsible so that we can be responsible citizens as well.

The guys go to the extent of bribing poorly paid Zimra officials into issuing tax clearances when they do not even pay a cent in taxes.

Let us jump to our bankers, they know that the right thing to do is properly know your client. A renowned economist with the Zimbabwe Economic Society challenged the banks saying was it a right thing to do, to issue loans at below inflation rate, was it also a morally right thing to continue disbursing loans at rates above 50% and even when rates increased to 200%, banks continued to issue loans.

Banks have access to company accounts and individual accounts and can easily see that most of these funds were not being deployed into productive endeavours. Bankers know that issuing huge loans has a huge impact on broad money supply and the right thing to do in this instance they knew it.

Back to the government again, they know the right thing to do to incentivise the exporters sitting on tons of foreign currency in their nostro accounts.

In the past we knew this but went ahead and dipped our hand into those accounts causing confidence in the banking system to nosedive. This time around, we wait to see if they will still do the right thing and not touch these free funds as they call them.

Someone invites us to their graduation, having the audacity to call themselves a doctor or a graduate but knowing they did not write their own thesis or dissertation.

People know that it is not right to claim someone’s work as your own but are we doing the right thing as graduates?

Makwara is a chartered accountant with both local and international experience in finance, accounting, auditing and business strategy and currently is working as the group financial manager of a local listed entity.

Nowadays they even advertise that they offer services to write these dissertations for you, they will do all the research for you and tutor you on how to defend your research paper and then you have the guts to call yourself an intellectual afterwards. If you ask them, you will find that they know this practice is not the right thing, but they still do it.

As a chartered accountant myself, we uphold the core values of integrity and honesty in our profession as per our body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe (“ICAZ”). We know it is a right thing not to take bribes or offer one but is it what we are doing in these companies? We hear reports of fraud perpetrated from the top. At times we blame the environment, but we know it is not the right thing to do but are just not prepared to do the right thing. Some managers intentionally leave loopholes in the system whether in the private sector or in government so that we can take advantage of these arbitrage opportunities even though we know it is not the right thing to do.

It was no secret that to maximise the auction system allotments of cheap forex, you create new companies, or you can bid through multiple related companies or even unrelated companies at a fee. Was this the right thing to do, no. People who did this knew that it was not the right thing to do, the officials knew as well that this is not the right thing to do but did anyone do anything about it, no.

They tell me that some officials in the banking system can help you to facilitate quick payment of foreign currency allotments on the auction at a fee straight into their pockets. Some even tell me that to even get a gold coin, someone in the banking system needs a cut to facilitate for you to have one. We know that people have been getting cash to buy these luxury cars and big SUVs and trucks through the interbank just because they have a connection at the bank. People know that this is not the right way of doing business but are not prepared to do the right thing.

I will not touch on police or those government employees at passport offices or birth certificates or immigration or local councils who are not doing the right thing expected at their jobs which they know but just are not doing it.

We need to change our perception and do the right thing, even if doing so will cost us in the short term. Unfortunately, there are no awards to do the right thing, it is a choice.

The good book says he who knows what is right but does not do it commits sin.


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