Di­a­logue key on na­tional poli­cies

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS/ADVERTORIAL - Dr Gift Mugano

LGover­norAST week, the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Pro­fes­sor Mthuli Ncube and the

of the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe, Dr John Man­gudya, pre­sented fis­cal mea­sures and the mone­tary pol­icy, re­spec­tively.

These poli­cies were met with mas­sive out­cry from the pub­lic.

Un­doubt­edly, the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe meant well. They want to take us to Canaan. How­ever, it is not go­ing to be an easy road.

Un­for­tu­nately, the na­tion was not ad­e­quately pre­pared for the pain. In short, we were am­bushed.

To make things worse, the pre­sen­ta­tion of the poli­cies left a lot to be de­sired — there was me­dia black­out and as such, we didn’t have the op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to the pre­sen­ta­tions. We had to strug­gle on our own to make sense of what the two gen­tle­men were say.

This is not ac­cept­able in the Sec­ond Repub­lic. Poli­cies are im­ple­mented by ev­ery­one, that is civil so­ci­ety, busi­ness, academia, labour, Gov­ern­ment, de­vel­op­ment part­ners and the gen­eral pub­lic. These are the con­stituen­cies that were not af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to what is ex­pected of them. Di­a­logue is key. If well-struc­tured in an in­ter­ac­tive process, stake­hold­ers will un­der­stand the fun­da­men­tal chal­lenges on the ground as well as the root causes and re­quired pre­scrip­tions, that is the poli­cies.

Pol­icy mak­ers must take cue from med­i­cal doc­tors who never pro­vide a med­i­cal pre­scrip­tion in the ab­sence of a com­pre­hen­sive med­i­cal re­port no mat­ter how sick the per­son is.

Med­i­cal doc­tors al­ways un­der­take x-rays, spec­i­men tests and var­i­ous di­ag­nos­tics be­fore they pre­scribe a drug.

Once they have a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the dis­ease, they pro­vide drugs that are aimed at stop­ping the pain, boost­ing ap­petite and the ones aimed at cur­ing the ail­ment. They even tell you times to drink and why you should do so.

They al­ways ask you if you are al­ler­gic to any drug.

Af­ter this thor­ough process of re­view of the pa­tient’s con­di­tion and the rec­om­men­da­tions, the pa­tient agrees with the med­i­cal doc­tor.

They can make painful de­ci­sions based on the doc­tor’s rec­om­men­da­tions, even if it means get­ting a leg am­pu­tated to save a hu­man life. Di­a­logue makes this doable.

Pol­icy mak­ers must make use of this same process.

No one would ques­tion their rec­om­men­da­tions if ev­ery­one was clear as to what needs to be done.

In this case, it feels like the Fi­nance Min­istry and the RBZ just am­pu­tated our legs through the 2 per­cent tax on our trans­ac­tions as well as rel­e­gat­ing our ac­counts to the lo­cal RTGS with­out both­er­ing to ex­plain to us why it had to be done.

Zim­babwe has twin prob­lems - trade im­bal­ances and fis­cal im­bal­ances. These are caused by one root cause - low pro­duc­tion.

As it stands, ev­ery year we are im­port­ing un­nec­es­sary goods worth over $2bil­lion in the form of tooth picks, di­a­pers, ce­re­als ($510 mil­lion), fruits, veg­eta­bles, pa­per, plas­tics and chew­ing gums.

The coun­try is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing all of this.

Through con­sul­ta­tive meet­ings, peo­ple could have rec­om­mended mea­sures aimed at sub­sti­tut­ing these im­ports with lo­cal pro­duc­tion. Also, there was no need to al­lo­cate $50 mil­lion to the con­struc­tion sec­tor, which is not a se­ri­ous prob­lem at the mo­ment.

The poli­cies that ef­fec­tively work in a dol­larised econ­omy to ad­dress struc­tural rigidi­ties are the in­dus­trial, agri­cul­tural and trade poli­cies. The fis­cal and mone­tary poli­cies, which we are ex­pect­ing to get mir­a­cles from, com­pli­ment the afore­men­tioned poli­cies.

In the ab­sence di­a­logue, the pol­icy mak­ers are sim­ply not go­ing on the same wave length as ev­ery­one else, hence the cur­rent dis­cord. ◆ Dr Mugano is an au­thor and ex­pert in Trade and In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance. He is a Re­search As­so­ci­ate at Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity, Regis­trar at Zim­babwe Ezekiel Guti Univer­sity and Direc­tor at Africa Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Strate­gies. Feed­back: Cell: +263 772 541 209. Email: gmugano@gmail.com

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