Zims ignorant of ZimAsset

There is a wide disconnect between government and its citizenry in policy making and implementation and the possible failure of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) is emanating from lack of wide civic engagement, a report by a local think tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has revealed.

The report launched on Wednesday at the Media Centre in Harare titled “Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceptions towards ZimAsset Policy in Mashonaland West Province” stated that the majority of people in the province are not aware of the economic blueprint. The majority of the interviewed persons said they viewed it as a Zanu (PF) agenda, not a national policy.

“While the name Zim Asset might have gained popularity on social media, there exists a dearth of information as to what itreally is, how it is going to bring economic turnaround and the roles of the different stakeholders,” read a statement from the research.

According to findings, the lack of information and failure of preceding policies by government to breathe life to the ailing economy had dented the image of the policy and had created lack of expectation, optimism and enthusiasm.

The report, a product of a research carried out by the ZDI to determine citizens’ understanding, attitudes and perceptions towards the country’s economic blueprint, sought to analyze the causes and implications of citizens’ knowledge and perceptions towards the successful execution and attainment of the policy objectives.

However, the research established that only one percent of the surveyed people had read the policy document and 13 percent believed that its objectives were achievable.

The ZDI reported that 472 of the people interviewed said they were totally ignorant of the policy, while 384 of the respondents approached who claimed to know something about the program revealed that they were not significantly knowledgeable.

“The study recorded an alarming number of people who are not aware of the national policy,” revealed the research.

“Only one percent of the interviewees had read the policy document while the rest of the respondents had acquired their information from varied sources such as the national radio (33 percent) and television (26 percent).”

The level of awareness, according to the research is high among males at 50 percent than females at 48 percent and is higher among the urbanites, at 56 percent compared to the rural areas at 46 percent.

The majority of respondents said that despite the potential for the Zim Asset to be practical, 25 percent doubt it would yield positive results or rescue the country from its economic problems.

Only 9 against 41 percent think that the ZimAsset will succeed without external support.

“The generality of the respondents considered the ZimAsset to be too broad a policy with huge investment requirements for it to be workable,” stated the ZDI, adding that the policy required substantial external funding for its success.

Even if it were implementable, a quarter of the respondents are pessimistic that it would make a difference, whilst 27 percent are not decided of what to expect.

The ZDI attributes this to citizens’ past experiences with the government’s previous economic policies, the majority of which were discarded without achieving any meaningful results.

“In fact, 32 percent associate the ZimAsset with previous failed economic policies likening it to the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP).”

The ZDI said the respondents revealed that they had “ very low expectations” on the success of the policy for an economic turnaround.

“The majority (68 percent) of the respondents thought that the ordinary citizen will not benefit at all from Zim Asset.

“However, 32 percent were of the opinion that they would benefit and of this number, 14 percent think that males stand a better chance of benefiting than females because history has shown that men have an upper hand in everything and they have a larger constituency in authority compared to women,” read the report.

Respondents who do not believe in ZimAsset’s ability to turnaround the economy suggested dealing with corruption and bad governance, while 59 percent recommended government reform.

Close to 18 percent of the respondents suggested placing Zimbabwe under the Southern African Development community curatorship.

“Curbing corruption, opening more jobs, Increasing agricultural production, restoring international relations and the formation of another government of national unity are some of the options that the Zimbabwean government can take to revive the country’s economy,” read the report.

The ZDI urged government to ensure citizenry engagement in policy making and implementation so as to achieve accountability, transparency and active citizenship.

“Government should actively engage civil society organisations in policy making with the roles of raising civic awareness, community organisations and mobilisation towards consultative, participatory policy making and implementation to close the existing information gap,” recommended the ZDI.

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  1. Wilbert Mukori

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