Zimbabwe: 'Develop People-Oriented Economic Policies'

Government should craft economic policies using the bottom-up approach where citizens are involved in all stages, from formulation to implementation and review, so that public policy can be successful, a new survey report says.

The survey, conducted by a civil society organisation that champions socio-economic justice, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd), is titled the Economy We Want. It reveals that many economic policies in Zimbabwe are failing because they are not people-oriented.

"For there to be effective policy solutions, both government and citizens must identify the possible policy problems or shortcomings and arrive at common ground towards working on plausible solutions," the report reads in part.

"Shared problem identification helps formulate buy-in and ownership of the proposed solution. The responsibility to formulate policy solutions is not the sole mandate of the government but a collective task which requires all stakeholders to participate."

A total of 74,5% of the respondents indicated that a highly consultative policy formulation process must be conducted from ward level to ensure that a policy resonates with the citizen.

"25,5% of the respondents noted that there was a need to craft policies that are people-oriented and that address the health, bread and butter issues and are employment-oriented rather than focus on high-level issues that perpetuate inequality like the 'Austerity for Prosperity' model," the report reads.

"This shows that citizens largely know and are better placed to identify socio-economic problems and are also better placed to proffer solutions as they are the most affected. The current volatile economic situation in the country now requires practical solutions rather than assumptions or theories that perpetuate poverty and inequality."

The survey notes that the respondents shared the sentiment that, for economic policy to "resonate with citizens and to be successful, policies must be crafted using the bottom-up approach where citizens are involved in all stages of formulation meaningfully until the implementation stage".

It said realities on the ground should be appreciated and related to citizens' aspirations for policy co-creation and citizen buy-in.

"Citizens' submissions must be taken seriously in economic policy formulation and their voices must reflect and be heard. In addition to citizens' voices being heard, tangible outcomes from the economic policies must be seen."

Zimcodd said tangible policy outcomes help generate the missing confidence the government desperately needs from the citizenry.

The organisation highlighted the need for consultations that are genuine and all-inclusive, to avoid the imposition of economic policies that are divorced from citizens.

"Government reforms on anti-corruption and pronouncements of statutory instruments must be consistent. The government must stop politicking on issues that are development-oriented," it said.

Zimcodd said policy decisions were made based on political and partisan grounds rather than for developmental purposes.

"As such, economic policies that are elitist perpetuate inequalities and poverty of the ordinary citizens," the organisation noted.

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