Adopting A Professional Approach To Economic Governance

AT the time of writing, Tuesday August 12, it was reported that there is an impasse in the talks towards a political settlement.


 A political settlement as a prerequisite to an economic turnaround in Zimbabwe is not an option. The negotiating parties have to internalise this fact both as political parties and as responsible Zimbabweans. They therefore have to take any future consequences to them, of the settlement, arising from their past leadership with courage — swallow unfounded pride, open up the glass castles and so on.

Zimbabweans on the other hand must not passively await this certain “event” of a political settlement — in particular we must not sit expectantly for the arrival of international “help” such as CZI’s Callisto Jokonya and Eddie Cross appear to be doing with their impulsive calls for such “help”.

Zimbabweans must begin to prepare and put in place a governance solution that avoids the governance problems of the past 28 years, or of the era since colonisation. A political framework that enshrines “white rule for a thousand years” is a recipe for the political instability and economic malaise such as we are in, and a political framework aimed at making selfish individuals life presidents, directly or indirectly, leads to and sustains the same result. A selfish political framework in particular, under the whims of one man, has for the past 28 years systematically lost talented and skilled governance personnel with the know-how to move the economy forward.

It has systematically replaced such personnel by personnel serving only to reinstate and uphold the individual — thus ensuring the individual’s life presidency. The result is stark right in our face — a government that has no clue whatsoever on how to take the economy forward, and what’s worse, a government that will not allow anyone who does not support the individual to do something constructive about the economy, a government that hides behind the finger of sanctions. As a direct consequence of poor economic oversight on the part of the deficient political framework, the various economic sectors in Zimbabwe lack an innovative and competent industry captainship and an appropriate work ethics to positively affect productivity.

If the articles in the Zimbabwe Independent in the past four weeks on the state of management in Zimbabwe and the recent impulsive calls for international help by some industry captains are anything to go by, the capacity of the sitting industry captainship to turn the economy around may be in question.

Any political settlement that does not attend to the problems outlined would be suicidal for Zimbabweans. A governance solution that avoids these problems, identified at both the political level and the economic management level and to help turn the economy around sooner rather than later should use governance approaches to target economic performance — where the targets should be based on established competitive targets and standards. Transparent compliance with the set targets and standards is achieved by instituting sets of governance rules or regulations — the latter of which have to be complied with in zero tolerance governance.

Economic growth in Zimbabwe could for instance be targeted to at least 6%, in keeping, say with average economic growth recorded for economies in Africa in the last two/three years. Inflation control, unemployment reduction and other complimentary aspects of economic performance would simultaneously need to be appropriately targeted within the same zero tolerance governance framework and commensurate to economic growth targets. Functionaries tasked to achieve these targets would have to do so in the agreed time frames, without any excuses for failure — they have to bow out gracefully whenever they are unable to perform.

Needless to say a realisation of such targeted economic performance, conducted in the zero-tolerance regime calls for expert professional execution, which does not prioritise political affiliation. So for instance the professional Minister of Finance tasked to put together a national strategy to turn the economy around, to put together the financial package to so turn the economy around and spearhead the implementation of the strategy; must be subjected to the respective established performance measures in each activity area at the agreed times. Zimbabweans could for instance asses the performance of the minister based on the clarity of the strategy, the comprehensiveness of the strategy, the cost efficiency of the financial package, the end result to increase productivity and bear on the output of the various economic sectors, reduce unemployment and so on.

They must gracefully bow out whenever they do not achieve this in the agreed time frames. The same goes for the central bank governor tasked to design, implement monetary policy and ensure the efficient performance of the financial system via the efficient operation of the banking system and related financial institutions, the MPs as representatives of the various people constituents. The competitive, efficient and transparent implementation of such competitive standards, targets and rules leads to political and administrative processes that operate and matter at the national level, and filter down to management of all economic sectors.

There is a global wave in the adaptation of such governance approaches recognisable by the move in regulatory reforms, American governance being widely known as having initiated this approach. A key advantage of such a governance model is that everyone and every governance unit within the overall governance framework has a specific mandate, enshrined in the respective competitive standards, targets and rules. The competitive standards, targets and rules have to be complied with transparently in the zero tolerance regime — hence there is little room for politicking.

And to ensure compliance, the governance framework has an inherent management performance review infrastructure applied almost continuously, based on established competitive performance measures for everyone and for every unit. The models are borne out of the decline in public trust in major political and social institutions in general, hence the associated popular saying, “we audit, and we regulate, when we cease to trust”. Research elsewhere reveals that there is a positive correlation between the existence of these governance approaches and the level of citizens’ confidence in public administration, government effectiveness and the fight against corruption and countries’ capacity for economic growth.

Now Zimbabwe has all the skills necessary to implement such a governance framework — thanks to the education drive of the early years of Independence. It is just the commitment to work with transparency, with competitive standards, targets and rules, required to implement such an effective governance framework.

*Tarusenga is Principal Consultant with Systemics Consulting; contact, Tel: 0912889716; 04- 293101.