By Owen Dhliwayo
In April 2022, the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) a non-profit, non–governmental research organization conducted a study on behalf of the Afro barometer Network on “The Quality of Democracy and Governance in Zimbabwe”. The research findings were subsequently disseminated on the 15th of June 2022 in Harare. Field work was conducted between 28 March 2022 and 10 April 2022, with face to face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice and the sample size of 1200 adult citizens that yielded a margin of +/-3 percentage points at a confidence level of 95%.
In summary, the research findings revealed that respondents rank economic management and unemployment as the most important problem that the government should address. At the same time, approval rating for public officials was generally low and even trust in public institutions.
Forty five (45%) of the respondents strongly believe that the management of the economy is the most important problems that needs to be addressed whilst 43% cites unemployment as a problem needing urgent attention. Nevertheless, 87% of the respondents believe that the government is performing badly in stabilizing prices of the basic commodities and 79% attest to the belief that the government is failing to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
Zimbabwe is a country with a history of unclear strategic socio-economic policies. The country has been grappling with volatile and uncompetitive state owned bodies, a perennial failure to stabilize inflation and most glaringly a weak economic appraisal of investor in the natural resource.
There were mixed views on natural resource extraction. There was a contestation on whether the benefits of resource extraction activities outweigh the costs and whether ordinary Zimbabweans have a voice in decisions about natural resource extraction.
However, 53% of the respondents say that local communities do not receive a fair share of the revenue from natural resource extraction, whereas 79% say that natural resource extraction should be more tightly regulated by the government to reduce the negative impact on environment.
Zimbabwe has a significant natural resource wealth that can be used as an engine of economic growth and the financing of development. Apart from building manufacturing industries, natural resources have the potential to provide the revenues needed for social services provision such as health and education.
The sentiments expressed by the respondents on natural resource extraction are guided by the belief that natural resources provide a unique opportunity to foster human and economic development. However, disappointment is configured around lived realities that the respondents face on a daily basis.
Chisumbanje ethanol plant was established with a view to make fuel affordable to the motoring public. Currently, mandatory blending is pegged at 20% but our fuel is the most expensive in the region making a mockery of the justification for blending. A proven and clear benefit from ethanol blending is having fewer emissions into the environment and definitely not pricing. Communities in Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwakwa are yet to derive any sustainable value from the ethanol plant; rather they have lost not only their land but also their source of livelihoods.
Communities in Mutoko have had to bear the curse of the natural black stone. This is due to a serious lack of congruent and decentralized legislative framework in the natural resource extraction sector whereas the community only receives a small fraction of its value.
The above examples are a clear indication of poor governance in the country. The abundance of natural resources is not equivalent to broad – based development and resource based industrialization. Poor governance is strongly linked with uncompetitive public institutions and weak socio-economic policies. The MPOI survey reveals that 49% disapprove of the President’s performance whilst the majority expressed trust in religious leaders than their elected leaders, the military or the police.
The survey broadly reveals that there is need for the government to seriously look at the structure of the country’s extractive industry. Zimbabwe is part of the countries that adopted the Africa Mining Vision in 2009. The AMV provide a compelling thrust towards transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad – based sustainable growth and socio – economic development. Therefore, Zimbabwe needs to operationalize the principles of the African Mining Vision.