Gvt Warned Against Autocratic Tendencies

Restrictions on freedom of association and assembly have a negative bearing on the overall performance of an economy, top economist, Professor Ashok Chakravarti has warned government.

Chakravarti, who is also a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, an advisory to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) told delegates at the Big Debate on Democracy held this morning in Harare that Zimbabwe was not doing well in respecting the rights of assembly, which could spell catastrophic results for the already beleaguered economy.

“There should be freedom of association and there should not be restrictions on peaceful demonstrations or should I say peaceful assemblies. So we are not doing well on that one,”

“You need to have a system with checks and balances. If the leadership makes a mistake, there has to be people who speak up to say this is wrong so that you can change your mind and that’s what democracy is all about,” Chakravarti said.

Recently, Zimbabwean’s main opposition political party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)  together with other human rights defenders have been denied rights to demonstrate over the deteriorating state of affairs in the economy.

The law has however, been selectively applied, as Zanu pf organized gatherings such as the Anti-sanctions march have been given green light.

Government ‘stance has been mainly influenced by events in January of this year where civic society-organized protests over President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pronouncement of fuel price hikes turned violent resulting in destruction of property worth millions of dollars nationwide.

“So it’s a flawed system, it has its own weaknesses but it’s the only system which goes along with human development, both as individuals and in terms of economic development,” Chakravarti added.

The World Bank says respect for human rights are an essential aspect of building confidence in a market hence attracts foreign investment.

Research has also proven that economic progress thrives in places where there is respect of people’s freedoms and minimal governmental interference in means of economic production.

Zimbabwe’s economy has however, suffered immensely in the past two decades due to excessive government interference in business and in most cases this has compromised effectiveness of public institutions such as the RBZ which has been doing quasi-fiscal activities such as Command Agriculture and Farm Mechanization programs.

“Rule of law provides economic stability and certainty in economic transactions backed by the country’s judicial institutions. Property rights refer to the legal ownership of resources, either tangible or intangible and how the resources can be used by the owner. These resources include land and capital. Ownership allows people to produce, buy and sell goods and services at a profit. Zimbabwe’s history is littered with violations of property rights and inadequacies on the rule of law hence confidence has sunk to the lowest levels. Cases such as the raiding of foreign currency accounts (FCA) by the central bank in 2009, incessant and arbitrary acquisition of land, assets or mining claims belonging to private investors by the government tarnish the image of the country,” economic expert, Victor Bhoroma noted.

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