One thing makes me smile when I think constitutional democracy – an elected government that shows unwavering love for its citizens. In perfect liberal or social democracies, elected governments fear citizens. The State submits itself to the whims and idiosyncrasies of those that give it power. Parliament becomes the last frontier, nay, paragon of public accountability.
Not so in Zimbabwe.
No sooner we ‘elect’ a government than they do start shooting, arresting and stealing from us – all in the name of ‘popular mandate’. It seems we vote for our government only to cheat us and ultimately violate our rights. Whenever we differ with our rulers, they respond with tougher laws and vindictive Statutory Instruments. Our government is devoid of compassion. Decree, arrest, and incarceration are their favoured choice of rule.
The very reason I feel aggrieved and depressed studying ZIMCODD policy documents. The magnitude of our nation’s indebtedness is catastrophic. Why would an underdeveloped country owe US$20 billion and yet citizens remain powerless on accountability? Were these debts incurred for ‘development’ purposes, how is it that Zimbabwe remains so derelict?
I submit two options to correct this anomaly.
It is possible to have a strong National Sovereign Wealth Fund from this. However, Zimbabwe needs an enlightened citizenry to enforce this.
First, ZIMCODD must ‘harness’ the litigation leverage of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Legal Resources Foundation, and Veritas. This sharpens enforceability of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Public Debt Management Act, the Reserve Bank Act [Chapter 22:15], the Public Finance Management Act [Chapter 22:19], and Auditor General’s Report.
A class action is an antidote to compel the ZANU.PF government to explain what happened to the US$20 billion and other ‘megadeals’ incurred on our behalf. This calls for a concerted effort on the part of ZIMCODD to enlighten citizens on how national debt negatively affects their lives and why they should act urgently. ZIMCODD emphasises that this indebtedness carries strong genes of corruption, hence my grief.
Second, according to ZIMCODD policy briefs, stakeholder voices inclusive of civil society, labour, business, and academia are clamouring for greater recourse to domestic resource mobilisation. This is the potential solution to persistent debt risk in Zimbabwe.
The country boasts natural resources from which to raise domestic capital. Add huge tracts of arable land, timber, wildlife, and fisheries to a litany of almost unlimited mineral reserves including lithium, gold, coal, iron ore, chromium ore, diamonds, vanadium, asbestos, nickel, and copper among others.
ZIMCODD equally argues for taxes on personal and corporation incomes, goods and services non-tax revenues as social security contributions, commission on natural resource extraction, property income, and privatised state enterprises. Tourism income, domestic savings, domestic credits, fees, fines, interest, royalties, licences, rents, penalties, forfeits, and sale of goods and services, as well as other kinds of levies collected by the government from citizens, resident non-citizens and local businesses, complete the list of local resources. It is possible to have a strong National Sovereign Wealth Fund from this. However, Zimbabwe needs an enlightened citizenry to enforce this.
Rejoice Ngwenya is the founder of COMALISO, an economic policy advocacy group in Ruwa, Zimbabwe.