By Tendayi Madhomu
Government has been urged to own up to its overspending and stop punishing ordinary citizens by burdening them with the extra two percent per dollar tax.
Responding to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent utterances that Zimbabweans should take the pain, analysts said it was not fair for the government to hurt the ordinary citizens.
Curiously, despite the outrage over taxations and the worsening economy, the president this week defended his administration’s policies saying the liberalisation of the economy has its own pains and Zimbabweans have no choice but to endure the phase.
Mnangagwa was responding to questions at a Professional Women, Women Executives and Business Women Forum (Proweb)-organised breakfast meeting in the capital.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure yesterday told the Daily News that although it is understandable that sacrifices should be made in redressing the economy, it is unfair to make the already burdened citizens pay for the leadership’s erring.
“It is understandable that after two decades of economic slide, sacrifices should be made; even though those that are responsible are the ones that are calling for the sacrifices. But it should be the leadership not the grassroots that should start the sacrificing,” he said.
“There should be evidence that government, the regime leaders are making serious and constant efforts to sacrifice on the altar of the economy and the masses will follow suit.
“In this instance the elite have maintained their lifestyle while the masses are suffering. The best lesson is through practice and the government elite should lead by example,” he said.
Analyst Ibbo Mandaza said the introduced reforms show that the government has run out of ideas in the context of a ballooning expenditure bill.
He said by November last year the domestic debt was $2,6 billion and now it has ballooned to $9,6 billion, noting that an audit needs to be carried out to account for the $7 billion spending.
“It only shows that government has run out of ideas and people must demand the $7 billion. Where did all that money go in just a few months?
“Clearly, government overspending is responsible for the crisis. So why should everyone suffer?” he said.
“There was a policy dialogue last week which the Finance minister (Mthuli Ncube) was supposed to attend but he didn’t. The demand for the $7 billion was the resolution at that meeting. People want to know where the money went; they want an audit.”
Eddie Cross, an economist was, however, supportive of government’s economic reforms hinting the current administration inherited a sickly economy from the previous government.
He said the two percent tax should not be a cause of alarm among the ordinary citizens who do not transact in large amounts.
“He (Mthuli) is right; we inherited a messy economy from the previous regime. He had to address the economic crisis and two percent tax is one of the measures to do so,” he said.
“In the meantime Zimbabweans have to take the pain as we fix the economy. The two percent tax impinges on the wealthy more than the poor.
“The ordinary make small individual transactions, compared to the large sums that the elite transact,” said Cross.
When he presented the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) last week, the Finance minister said Zimbabweans should brace themselves for trying times as the government addresses the economy.
Mnangagwa on Monday further emphasised that for a viable and solid economy, his administration is going to take measures that are going to be painful.
For the past days after the central bank and the Finance ministry implemented new economic reforms, the country continues to experience sky rocketing forex exchange rates, commodity shortages, consequent price hikes, looming retrenchments and company closures as part of the pain package. DailyNews