Time to Walk the Talk

edit_2.jpgThat the 2009 budget statement and the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Progamme (STERP) presented to Zimbabweans by the new unity government over the past week are good documents containing reasonable proposals to fix our bleeding nation is not in doubt.

But then, the reason why Zimbabwe is in this sorry state was never a
lack of good ideas or policy blueprints – these we have always had

It is a path we have walked before. We have had the Transitional
National Development Plan (1986-1990), the IMF-inspired Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme (1991-1996), the Zimbabwe Programme for
Economic and Social Transformation and others too many to list here.

All were good blueprints but achieved zilch! And the lesson for
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Finance
Minister Tendai Biti and all in government is that rhetoric – whether
in the form of an economic blueprint or in any other guise – cannot be
a substitute for genuine reform and performance.

For that is what these blueprints ultimately become – mere rhetoric –
if the government undertakes, as it does in the creatively named STERP,
to uphold the rule of law and yet productive farmers are being forced
off the land by hooligans acting in the name of none other than the
President's party, Zanu (PF).

Those we seek to impress with our colourful rhetoric need look no
further than a village in Buhera where dozens of huts were burnt down
in political violence two weeks ago in order for them to realize that
fear and terror still stalk our land.

The blight of the old government was its insatiable appetite to
(mis)spend money it did not have which plunged Zimbabwe into debt and
left the economy crippled by huge budget deficits.

But it sounds hollow when Finance Minister Biti proclaims a new era of
living within our means. The first step if ZANU PF and the MDC
formations were serious about fiscal prudence and genuine reform would
be to prune that huge bureaucracy they have imposed on us in the name
of an all-inclusive government in order to cut costs.

But, of course, we all know that it is easier to posture about
financial discipline than to do the simple thing and send the old boys
and girls back home simply because they have no real work to do at the
government offices.

The ruse that this was about the need to carry all parties in a
delicate political compromise is just what it is – a ruse to justify
misusing our money and diverting cash from donors to paying salaries
for the ministers and their hangers-on at the expense of the ordinary
man and woman.

Yet this government – the first in long a time to enjoy the good will
of most Zimbabweans — could achieve so much if only it could break
off with habits of the past and walk the talk on democratic reform,
rule of law and fiscal prudence.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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