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Govt has failed to resolve strike by teachers, and all civil servants

18 Nov 2020 at 12:29hrs | Views
The major reason why the Zimbabwe government is failing is in whole part for its reason to resist the tide.
For a start, the government has over the decades tried and failed dismally to control the prices of commodities and services. Whenever the price of bread got fixed, bread vanished from the shelves, only to re-emerge on informal market at prices higher than the government preferred prices. Naturally a shortage will occur and this drove bread prices much higher. This is a phenomenon the Zimbabweans have witnessed over the years Zanu Pf has been at the helm. It was government desire that bread should be sold below production cost, just to please the populace.

This has happened with fuel, and we witnessed a crippling fuel shortage and the resulting long queues. Government tried to give fuel for free to individuals and industry by pegging fuel prices so low. Almost everyone then could afford full tanks at very low prices. But the party would soon be over as the government could not long keep up filling everyone's tanks and make them all happy so as to forget government inadequacy and corruption. It worked to some extent as short-sighted Zimbabweans would still have patience to even to the whole night on queues just to purchase the 'manna' fuel. So Zimbabweans did not complain about the shortage of fuel nor the long winding queues. As fuel was almost for free so people did not care about the hustles. Not affording to suckle its children indefinitely the government gave up the price controls and even let fuel be sold in forex. Initially prices shot through the roof but market forces would quickly come into play to lower and steady the prices.

The government had previously tried this with electricity prices. We witnessed enormous load shedding for 12 months when the government tried to control prices of electricity. Petrol and diesel are imported while Zimbabwe makes some of its electricity and import the rest, paying through forex. Zimbabwean consumers pay for electricity through our much weaker Zim-dollar. With the government determined to please the electorate with free electricity consumers were paying almost nothing for electricity. This meant that government again was bearing all-the burden to buy electricity abroad for subsequent for absolute free use by consumers. So it wasn't surprising that Zimbabweans bore quietly the brunt of an excruciating 18 hour load shedding, becasuse electricity almost for free. Like in the fuel case the government would soon realise the futility of fixing electricity prices, an action that actually made electricity totally unavailable. The government could no longer keep everyone happy by being unable to provide unavailable cheap electricity to every household in the country. The economy shrank further as a result of this government action as most production processes require electricity as a power source.

Government has also attempted to buy all farming inputs for commercial and rural farmers. Government is trying but failing totally to be a father to Zimbabweans by proving all things for free, just to appease Zimbabweans and keep them from complaining. This is a huge bill. Currently government is proving 'free' transport for daily commuters charging far less prices than. Government does not have any other major source of money than taxes. Its major parastatals have collapsed through mismanagement and corruption. The tax revenue base has shrunk significantly since the tumultuous land reform that resulted in collapse of industry and the financial sector. So whilst the Zanu Pf government was able to let Zimbabweans enjoy goods and services almost for free, years before the land reform, it can no longer provide subsidies without meaningful tax revenue base. Soon after independence there was free education, free health and free many other services. Zanu Pf led government then made Zimbabweans happy and their re-election guaranteed. The government was able to play politics with free goods and services by offering huge subsidy because the economy was performing well.

The government has to give up its populist policies. These policies cannot help nurture economic growth and stability. There are countries around the world that provides for its citizens with free goods and services like education, health access and some other things. These countries' economies are strong and are usually backed up by ample natural resources like oil, natural gas or maybe are heavily industrialised. These are countries whose GDPs are huge and resulting tax revenue base are correspondingly large. Usually these countries never use welfare service provision as bait for electoral votes. Zimbabwe economy is in tatters therefore higher levels of subsidy make no sense. That's why our budget deficit keeps balooning. In the end the people of Zimbabwe are the very people who will pay back the debt through heavier taxation. Munangagwa and Mthuli will be nowhere to be seen during that time.
Botswana is one country that has managed to let the occurrence and mining of diamonds benefit the nation in provision of critical services without a quid pro quo condition being imposed on the electorate.

Contrary in Zimbabwe, the government has tried to pay the country's education bill through subsidy. But unfortunately the government coffers are empty and there is no longer meaningful tax collection. Much of the economy has been informalised and there are no tax remittances from these sectors as most of the informal businesses are not registered with ZIMRA. So in the end the government has resorted to cat and mouse action with the teachers, threatening to fire them. Teachers want to be paid reasonable salaries. Teachers have been on strike or on go slow for the past 8 years due to low pay. Teachers are now incapacitated and cannot even afford rides to report for work. The government still want to please the electorate by providing education for free. If the government wants to provide education for free then it has to remunerate the teachers as a subsidy. But the government cannot, because it is broke. As in the case of bread, fuel and electricity price controls, the Zanu pf led government wants to provide free education that it cannot afford financially.

Now unreasonably low tuitions are being charged by government schools because government is controlling prices that can be paid by parents. Government views higher tuitions as a sensitive issue that can lead to revolts. In the end government chooses to bear all the burden of paying teachers as a subsidy, but it cannot, because it is broke.  It seems government is not interested in the schools charging reasonable fees as to reasonably remunerate teachers. Parents are worried about continued strikes and the resulting very low standard of education. Some parents are choosing to pay parallel forex fees to argument low, paltry government salaries, as a way to motivate the teachers. In some areas government suppresses these initiatives through giving warnings and threats and even arrests.  
The quality of education improves in pace with teachers job and salary satisfaction. The government must be dumn not to understand this, but government chooses only to excite the electorate by charging low fees. In the end the objective of educating pupils is never met. The government seems content to only be voted in the next election. That's very absurd.

Let economy market forces work. The government's work is not for it to be the provider of food and services the citizens. The role of government should be limited to that of facilitating business, and not be a benefactor of the people.  Conspiracy theories in Zimbabwe say it is actually Zanu pf government's wish to totally weaken the Zimbabwe's economy so as to make citizens totally dependent on government for free food and services. That way Zanu pf will remain in power forever.

Also if government continue to roll out uneducated adults from schools, it remains unchallenged as these poorly educated people would not understand their rights, how government works. Then 2030 'ndinenge ndichipo' would easily be achiavble as there would only be gullible stupid poorly educated citizens.

The Zanu Pf government is usurping roles that should be achieved by market forces. Market forces will do a better job than the government in price stabilizations and efficient distribution of resources. When the government deregulated price of bread, fuel and electricity these commodities simply became unavailable. The same way the government should see to it that parents pay tuition that will enable sensible remuneration of teachers. Schools should work on a cost recovery basis. Zimbabwe government education ministry has been giving disturbing signals that gave some indication that students can even attend school without paying tuition. School heads were warned that it is a crime to turn away pupils if they have not paid their tuition.

The standard of education in Zimbabwe has declined so much but still Zimbabweans have remained mum. Teachers have reached down to the level of incapacitation and are heavily demoralised. They cannot afford to just pay for their rides to work place. The government just wants them at school and teaching without pay, so that it can still keep its electoral base happy and ready to vote for it in the 2023 election, by sending their kids to school for absolutely free. This will not work. With the Zanu pf government focussed and blinkered only on re-election, it has thrown everything else under the bus. This is very foolish.

Source - Zanda Shumba
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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