When was the last time you looked forward to a politician’s speech? These speeches have been commonplace and impractical, it took the zeal out of you. Maybe our political leaders should speak less and be more action oriented.
You would be forgiven for thinking a speech read or made by a Zimbabwean politician this month was the same you heard in 2008 or 2003. It is the same rhetoric “more talking and less action”.
The same can be said about economic turnaround programmes.
Zimbabwe has had many turnaround programmes that sound similar and have not changed the country’s economic performance.
The only thing that seems to change is not the quality of the lives of Zimbabweans, but the acronyms and spellings of these fancy programmes.
“Zimbabweans have had a lot of turnaround programmes no-wonder they look dizzy,” joked one commentator last week.
Some of the “turnaround” economic blueprints Zimbabwe has had include the Zimbabwe Programme for Socio-economic Transformation, the Medium-Term Plan, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan, the National Economic Recovery Plan, the inclusive government’s Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme and Zimbabwe’s Industrial Development policy 2011-2015.
Speechwriters write these armies of words each time the politicians are campaigning or want to be seen to be doing something.
Speeches to the party faithful and to their parliamentarians could be important. But what about people who need less talking and more action on the ground?
Universally, ministers are important people, or at least they hold important jobs. Maybe if they talked less, they would be listened to more.
Speaking at a Business breakfast Talk and Networking forum organised by Steward Bank dubbed “The Great Cross Over — How can businesses tap into opportunities that lie ahead?” last week, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha, said the biggest challenge Zimbabwe has had over the years was implementation of issues discussed at strategic meetings, Parliament or business forums.
“We (government) have legislation and policy documents on what needs to be done. We now want more action and less talking,” he said.
“Politicians have a tendency of criticising each other for no tangible reason, thus taking long to come up with solutions that need to be implemented. This should be a thing of the past if the economy is going to grow at the same time with our people growing (financially) with it,” Bimha said.
In Europe and America where accountability is taken more seriously by people in public office, people gather around televisions to watch their presidents and ministers giving speeches knowing action would follow as well as explanations of why what was promised earlier failed and they factor it into their day, their eating and their drinking schedules.
In Zimbabwe, many people seem no longer interested and seldom think very little of organising their day or meals around a political speech because no action would be taken.
The same speech that children born after 1990 heard in 2005 is the same speech that they heard in 2010 and will probably hear it again in 2014 but no action is being done to accompany the speeches.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice president, Davison Norupi, said the local industry was collapsing because many proposals made were not being implemented.
“As we speak, we are looking at a total collapse (of industry) because of cheap imports being smuggled into Zimbabwe. The ripple downstream effect means job losses.
“The whole value chain will be negatively affected,” he said at the forum.
As Zimbabwean ministers are currently drafting their strategic plans for the next five years, it remains to be seen how different they will be from those that were drafted even before the economy was formally dollarised in February 2009 and what explanation would be given, if any, on objectives they failed to achieve.
Most politicians spend their lives going from venue to venue and giving speeches to members of the public who remember very little of what they say because of less implementation. They are no longer taken seriously in some circles.
“Their security details can probably recite each word by heart. It seems politicians do not have time to do anything. They are talking all the time and thinking of ways to enrich themselves,” said one business executive.
By making speeches so often, politicians have cheapened the potential power of their words. The public have switched off and got on with their lives, relying on being told what the leaders of their political parties say by the media and commentators and seeing the odd snippet or sound bites on television.
Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises, Sithembiso Nyoni, said her ministry was the foundation of indigenisation which has created more jobs than any other ministry because they have been proactive on their plans.
“We (Zimbabwe) are leading in self employment. Over 5,7 million jobs have been created. With more action and working together we can increase these figures,” she said.
Analysts said Zimbabwe was confronted with a growing number of crises, which needed to be addressed urgently. These include out-of-control and fatal national and foreign debt, the increase in regulation and taxes, which is destroying small and medium size businesses and job growth in particular. Unreliable electricity supply and clean water is the order of the day.
The country is also suffering from poor infrastructure and lack of investments in schools and hospitals.