Slow reform pace worrying

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Barely a week after the World Bank urged the government to speed up the pace of economic reforms, we receive depressing news from the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce annual congress in Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwe Independent Comment

There is an unsettling revelation that only four out of 15 critical Bills meant to expedite the ease of doing business reforms have been approved in a one-year period.

This shows that the government is obstructing the implementation of critical reforms.

The four Bills which were passed through parliament during that period are the Deeds Registries Amendment (No.8 of 2017), Movable Property Security Interests, Joint Ventures, and Special Economic Zones.

This week, the Special Economic Zones board was appointed. But how on earth does the government expect to promote investment when the enabling legislative framework is in a shambles?

It is only through implementing far-reaching reforms that the government can begin to generate the level of confidence that will enable the country to entice significant numbers of foreign investors.

Why is it taking too long to finalise the Companies Amendment Bill, the Insolvency Bill, the National Social Security Amendment Bill, Shop Licences Amendment Bill, and the Manpower Development Amendment Bill?

We have always argued that Zimbabwe’s economic woes are man-made.

Owing to poor governance coupled with the slow pace of economic and political reforms, the government is squandering immense opportunities to inject life into the moribund economy.

Despite its natural resource endowment and skilled workforce, this country continues wallowing in the depths of despair. Poverty is endemic and a good quality of life is a cruel mirage.

It boggles the mind that the Zanu PF government which enjoys a majority in the National Assembly and Senate is failing to give impetus to the legislative agenda. A parliamentary majority, in the right hands, can play an instrumental role in turning around the fortunes of a nation; in the wrong hands it can become a weapon of repression.

Zimbabwe needs a competitive business environment and one of the key pillars of this is a raft of laws that will underpin civilised conduct. The slow pace at which business-related Bills are being finalised suggests that senior officials are not giving the process the seriousness it deserves. It would be tragic for Zimbabwe that, having correctly identified the measures which need to be taken to salvage the comatose economy, the government goes on to fail to adopt the necessary solutions.

The slow reform momentum is the latest sign of bad governance. It dovetails with last week’s 2016 report by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri which revealed shocking corruption and incompetence by a government that has run out of ideas.

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