6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Zimcodd Seeks Policy Accountability

THE Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development has embarked on an initiative to ensure policymakers' accountability to the public in the implementation of social-economic and development programmes around the country.

Zimcodd has initiated a platform known as the "Cheuka/Look Back/Kangela Emuva" with a view to facilitating public interface with policymakers, local authorities and the private sector for socio-economic dialogue to ensure social and economic justice.

Through capacity building in various socio-economic and development issues at community levels Zimcodd ensures the public meets office bearers and requests progress on the implementation of various programmes that affect them.

While Zimcodd is a coalition of a number of interest groups covering developmental issues such as the economy, labour, HIV and Aids, local authority administration and the environment among others, the main focus now is on debt.

Zimbabwe currently carries a debt of about US$10,7 billion largely owed to external creditors with the bulk of the liability already in arrears and standing in the way of lines of credit from multilateral and bilateral lending institutions.

Against this background, Zimcodd will seek to ensure the public debate and Government accountability on the debt structure, how public benefited from the borrowed funds and measures to prevent unnecessary debt accumulation in future.

While representing various interest groups under the Zimcodd ambit the coalition will, as part of its priorities and using the recently established public interface platform, seek to ensure that even as the debt issue is addressed there should be sufficient mechanisms to ensure that the debt question does not arise again in future.

"Debt is the biggest issue that we are using as an entry point in our endeavour to ensure social and economic justice," said Zimcodd national chairperson Mr Joy Mabenge in an interview with Herald Business.

"Inasfar as this sitting on the debt issue, the bigger picture is to ensure social and economic justice," said Mr Mabenge.

"Over the years, since 1999 when Zimcodd was formed the debt question and social-economic justice issues were not real big issues so for us it took a long time to build this movement (Zimcodd) we talk about.

"For a very long time the Zimbabwean issues were highly political where people were just talking about first generation rights, the civil liberties and the like, but then we are saying even as you resolve these issues do not forget that the biggest issue that people want answered are second generation rights," he said.

"This platform (Cheuka/Look Back/ Kangela Emuva) that we intend to carry through all sectors of society to the extent that, if there is capacity we can be for example in Dangamvura where an elected councillor and company operating there can sit down with the community and the community ask questions they can answer them.

As part of the broad objective to ensure social and economic justice Zimcodd has already facilitated debate, using the "Cheuka, Look Back, Kangela Emuva" platform, among Zimbabwe's main political parties on their manifestos regarding economic growth, development, empowerment and the creation of new job.

But with debt being a major issue now than at any other time in the history of post-colonial Zimbabwe, Zimcodd lauded the Government for taking bold steps to deal with the country's sovereign debt.

"It is good that the debt question has become a national question that also needs a policy framework for it to be resolved.

"We do acknowledge everything around the fact that Zimbabwe cannot access international finance, when it really needs it, because of the issues around especially the arrears," Mr Mabenge said.

But he said Zimcodd was of the view that Zimbabwe's debt needed to be audited to ensure that taxpayers helped repay exactly the debt and arrears arising from expenditure and borrowings they benefitted from considering repayment funds compete with many other strategic and basic requirements.

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