The Sunday Mail
A goodwill gesture by a Harare businessman and philanthropist turned into a source of distress for Mr Mujaho Mashamhanda, a village head in Chivi, Masvingo province.
Mr Mashamhanda, together with the other villagers, watched helplessly as their cattle succumbed to tick-borne diseases.
This was despite the fact that a Harare-based businessman, who had heard about the villagers’ plight, had offered to donate dipping chemicals to the Chemakanda community.
Communal farmers dip their cattle on a weekly basis through the Veterinary Services Department.
As the herd was succumbing to the diseases, the well-wisher was being referred from one veterinary office to the other.
Mr Mashamhanda summed up the frustrations that he was subjected to.
“As communal farmers, we rely heavily on cattle. Since the veterinary services did not have dipping chemicals, we approached a businessman who offered to buy the chemicals. After approaching the local veterinary offices, the well-wisher was needlessly referred from one veterinary services office to the other,” Mr Mashamhanda said.
Added Mr Mashamhanda: “For three weeks, we watched as our cattle died. We could not afford to buy our own dip chemicals since they are now being charged in forex. Had the vet offices moved faster and had they given the well-wisher the go ahead to purchase the chemicals, I would have saved my six cattle,” a clearly dejected Mr Mashamhanda said.
The above scenario is an example of how excessive bureaucracy can have a negative impact on the development of the country.
At a time when more than 50 000 cattle succumbed to tick-borne diseases and during which time the veterinary department did not have the chemicals, the coming on board of a well-wisher should have been received with both hands.
The necessary clearance and paperwork to allow the well-wisher to buy the chemicals should have been taken as a matter of great urgency.
Mr Mashamhanda and the Chemakanda community are not the only victims of red tape.
Companies and individuals are still struggling to get their business licensed.
Red tape or bureaucracy is the strict adherence to official rules and formalities and is mostly applied to Government departments and other large organisations. Mr Moses Mangowe of Wedza narrated how he struggled to get a liquor licence.
“The process of acquiring a liquor licence is frustrating. I had to travel all the way to Harare just to place a notice in a newspaper column. I feel this process should have been done in Wedza or some place near here,” said Mr Mangowe.
Zimbabweans often travel very long distances to acquire birth certificates, passports and other identity particulars.
Over the years, calls for the decentralisation of such essential services have been growing louder.
Red tape, which often breeds corruption, will, however, become a thing of the past.
Government has intensified efforts to make sure that essential services are brought nearer to the people through decentralisation and devolution.
President Mnangagwa is on record promising Zimbabweans that his leadership is underpinned on servant leadership where corruption and unnecessary bureaucracy in service delivery will not be tolerated.
Speaking during his inauguration, President Mnangagwa said: “I am your listening President, a servant leader.”
“In this vein, those who will occupy public office at any level, under my Government will be required to exercise servant leadership in the execution of their duties and to be humble and responsive in their interactions and dealings with the citizenry.
“Equally, the bureaucracy in the Second Republic will be expected to be development oriented, responsive to the people’s needs as well as exhibit high principles of professional ethics and integrity. My administration will therefore expect public sector officials to deliver quality and timely services to the people as well as facilitate business, trade and investment. Bureaucratic bottlenecks, unnecessary delays, lethargic and corrupt activities will not be tolerated.
President Mnangagwa also spoke about devolution.
“As per our pledge during the campaign trail, my Government will be implementing the Constitutional provisions with regards the devolution of Government powers and responsibilities. Provinces will now be expected to plan and grow their provincial economies.
“Economic development at every level is the ultimate goal. I therefore challenge local authorities in the Second Republic, to be the engines of local economic development and growth. My Government will not stand by and watch people suffer due to dereliction of duty, corruption or incompetence within our local authorities.”
The President also outlined the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, which seeks to steer the country towards the attainment of Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 aims at transforming Zimbabwe into a upper middle-income economy in 11 years’ time.
The programme will help do away with regulations that have been making the establishment of business a nightmare.
Zimbabwe is ranked number 157 out of 180 in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 by Transparency International, and it is considered as one of the most corrupt countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.