GOVERNMENT frequently tells the populace that which it wishes to hear, usually encompassing declarations of actions to address the wishes and challenges facing the people.
However, government has an equally great skill of either not taking action encompassed in its numerous statements, or only partially and belatedly doing so.
It is many months since the media (including, surprisingly, that controlled by the state) exposed the “obscene” salaries and ancillary employment benefits of executives of state-owned parastatals, local authorities and other enterprises.
One of the cited beneficiaries was allegedly receiving an aggregate of US$500 000 per month, while others were getting amounts ranging between US$200 000 and US$250 000 monthly.
Such emoluments are shocking and unjustified when related to the services rendered given the constrained circumstances of the entities, and in comparison with private sector emoluments where very few senior and long-serving executives rarely earn more than US$10 000 per month.
Not only was the populace appalled by the salary expose, especially so when compared with levels of remuneration for like-service employees internationally, and the low salaries of most workers in the private and public sectors.
Moreover, with more than 80% of Zimbabweans struggling to survive on incomes below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), it was incomprehensible and aggravating to learn of the unjustifiable remuneration of bosses of such entities.
The fury of the populace was also fuelled by the fact that, by its own admission, government is bankrupt with monthly revenues insignificant against expenditure, especially as much of the expenditures are perceived as unnecessary or of very low priority.
Concurrently many essential expenditures are not funded by the state.
Almost immediately after the media exposé government issued highly condemnatory statements, with many demanding urgent remedial action.
Almost without exception those ministers directly or indirectly responsible for the parastatals and other entities paying unjustifiable executive salaries expressed their horror at the size of the remuneration packages, and gave assurances action would be taken.
(It is intriguing that none of them sought to explain how they were, for so many years, “unaware” of the huge salaries).
But months have gone by without any evidence of meaningful corrective action.
The Zimbabwean economy thrived during the first four years of Independence, but after milking international donors for as much philanthropic aid as possible, from 1985 onwards the economy progressively declined, save for a few relatively short periods in which marginal economic upturns were realised.
Frequently, government enunciated policies and intents to achieve economic viability and national wellbeing. But policy enunciation and implementation proved to be two very different things. There are many instances illustrative of this:
Since the implementation of Zimbabwe’s land reform programmes farmers would be assured of ongoing tenure and ability to collateralise land as security for borrowings, which would give them access to working capital resources.
Yet again, four months ago, government stated that it was proceeding with the preparation and issue of 99-year negotiable and transferrable leases, but nothing has happened so far.
Three years ago government terminated the provision of export incentives to Zimbabwean industries, resulting in a pronounced decline in industrial output with concomitant negative repercussions on the economy in general, and upon employment for the populace in general.
A year later, and several times subsequently, government has assured that new export incentivisation would be forthcoming, but this is yet to be implemented.
Increasingly, over the last two decades it has become ever more apparent that one of the most virile of Zimbabwean economic activities has been corruption. There is immense corruption within the corridors of government, local authorities and the private sector.
After many assurances by the state that major measures would be pursued to curb and contain corruption, an Anti-Corruption Commission was established, but not only has there been no diminution in public and private sector corrupt practices, there actually has been an increase.
That increase has undoubtedly been partially driven by the horrific decline in economic circumstances, but also inevitably by recognition of the endless failure of the state to implement anti-corruption actions.
In view of the abysmal service delivery and poor performance of many parastatals, relevant ministers and sometimes the presidency have sought to assure the populace of imminent remedial actions.
To date, however, there is very little evidence of any significant such actions.
These are a few of the great number of statements and assurances which emanating from government. With only a few highly commendable exceptions, the political leadership of Zimbabwe has proven itself to be very adept at talking, but devoid of action.