What Can Buisiness do to Help?

John Makumbe
As we noted last Sunday in this informative paper, Zimbabwe is essentially at the crossroads today. 

The myriad problems that the nation is facing demand solutions from all quarters of our struggling society. For some time now, the local business sector has treated politics as a dirty game that is engaged in by people who have no capability to venture into more taxing activities. Recently however, business has discovered that issues of public policy-making, governance, human rights and, indeed, politics can have very serious implications for how and even what business is undertaken in a given polity. The question now remains: what can business do to contribute to the desperate search for solutions to Zimbabwe's current crisis?

This is not an easy question to answer; but the following are only suggestions that may have to be seriously considered by the business sector in Zimbabwe if the nation is to be assisted to return to the democratic path, peace and political stability:

Business needs to adopt a more politically proactive, if not aggressive, stance in dealing with national politicians. It is sometimes necessary for business to challenge the government on some of its policies whether these are political or social or economic policies. For instance, there is more of complicity with than criticism of public officials with regard to the proliferation of corruption in this country. Perhaps the major reason for this is that business itself is also involved in corrupt practices and can therefore not afford to throw the first stone.

Business needs to engage the government with regard to the policy-making process in this country. It is rare that the Zimbabwe Government consults the business community before proposing and passing some of the more ruinous social and economic policies that we have experienced over the past years. Yet business has consistently kept a low profile even when it knows the possible and negative consequences of some of these policies.

Business has to pluck up its courage and begin to support selected democratic forces operating in this country. Very few, if any, civic groups, for example, can ever hope to receive a single bearer cheque from a local business enterprise in support of all the efforts and programmes that are undertaken in pursuit of democracy and good governance, and the protection of human rights in this country. By and large, local businesses consider it too politically dangerous or risky to assist any civic group or political party other than the ruling Zanu (PF) party.

Business should search for ways and means of financially and technically supporting our national educational and training institutions for the benefit of our young people and our economy. It is rare to find a Kingdom Professorial chair at any of the numerous universities and colleges that we have in this country. When is Kingdom going to sponsor a professorial chair in banking or economics or accounting at one of our universities and colleges? When is Econet going to sponsor a professorial chair in electrical engineering at any of the local universities?

Business should create a forum through which to engage government and opposition political parties on such issues as good governance, policy-making, democracy, human rights and international affairs. Business should consider such engagement with both state and non-state actors as a form of investment, which can generate long lasting dividends for both business and the nation at large. Without making this kind of input or investment, business will always be at the receiving end of policy-making and governance. The results are exactly what this nation is currently experiencing.

These are obviously very general and preliminary suggestions that need to be explored, researched and discussed by all the parties involved. This brief paper, however, does not have the scope to undertake such a task. But this is clearly a challenge to business to stop whining and get up and do something for the national good, as well as for your own good. Evil can only abound when good men and good women decide to do nothing. Surely there must be some good men and women in business in this country. Regime change is the responsibility of all of us. Zimbabwe is ripe for regime change.


Post published in: Economy

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