Govt must communicate its decisions to the public

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Of the many definitions of communication, most of which are scholarly, is one that describes it as a process by which information is transmitted between individuals and or organisations so that an understanding between the sender and receiver is established. The basic assumption of this definition, arguably, being that whatever response to any message is triggered and or determined by understanding.

For one to understand, they first of all need the message delivered clearly and comprehensively.

This lesson appears to have been skipped by Government or is being deliberately ignored for one reason or another.

Whatever the situation, our country is bleeding profusely and it appears to be worsening each minute since Finance and Economic development Minister Mthuli Ncube announced introduction of a 2 percent tax on transactions. This, coupled with Reserve bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor’s Monetary Policy statement which effectively reintroduced the Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) sent shivers down the spines of many who interpreted it as an admission bond notes and RTGS balances (local dollars) are not equivalent to hard currency.

This then begs the question, what is the value of the local dollar and will that value be preserved in the long term? In the absence of clear communication and deliberate efforts to clarify the message to the public, sell the idea to get the much needed public support, these efforts will do more harm than good, at least in the short term.

A little bird whispered to us the 2 percent tax is part of Government’s efforts to increase tax collections in an economy that is becoming more and more informal by the day. The idea is to collect from the informal sector in order to plug the $1,4 billion budget deficit. At the same time, Government also acknowledges the need to cut recurrent expenditure hence the trimming of ministries.

This 2 percent, our little bird said, is premised on the basis that everyone formally or informally employed will transact electronically and all citizens including those corporates in the formal sector and the informal sector players will transact. This move however fails to be discriminant in that everyone including those who are not in the private sector are taxed in the process. Information at hand suggest some constituency in business has reservations which are more around the execution and current solution preferred, but they agree more needs to be done to tax the informal sector.

Sadly, it is not everyone who gets an opportunity to speak to little birds and understand government’s intentions. As such, it is Government’s duty to communicate all its decisions to the public. This helps to ensure the message is understood and responded to more likely in the desired manner.

As it stands, the nature of the taxes largely remains misunderstood in terms of how it is going to be implemented and measuring its impact on business is just tricky if not completely impossible. This just makes business hard in that one cannot plan without predictability

. As a result, people press the panic button especially given that we are not living too far from 2008 when shelves ran dry and companies went under due to challenges.

At the first sign of a challenge, business rushed to panic mode with some closing shop as they watch developments. As of yesterday night, prices of most commodities including fast food had at least doubled as citizens are kept in the dark while business has jumped on to the gravy train.

A simple explanation of what is happening and a message assuring business of a profitable environment would have gone a long way.

In the absence of that, the unscrupulous dealers, the dark world of parallel market takes advantage and thrives at the expense of progress. A lot of damage can happen to an economy in 24hrs which will take months to correct. Government should just learn to walk with Zimbabweans every step of the journey and be truthful because the public will need evidence of what is being promised and communicated to rebuild trust. In the second republic, trust will be a key commodity that will take us places if it is earned, but that will never happen if the masses are kept in the dark only to guess and feed on whatever anti Government propaganda they are fed.