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Zimbabwe government lacks competent P.R and proper research

09 Jan 2019 at 12:06hrs | Views
From my own assessment and analysis it is important as an academic to make such recommendations and submissions basing on factual writings and credible information to improve the performance of governance and enhance development. As a development practitioner, it is critical for any institution or organization to come up with a competent public relations for the benefit of the organization. Public relations is important to improve the reputation of an organization and building the firm's image. They are experts in the development sector who focuses on capacity building. Most companies invest much time and resources as one of their strategies to improve the firm's image. The so-called new dispensation was supposed to have put up a budget or allocate resources for such a crucial project.

In fact it must be labeled a project or "task", which must have deliverables. Public relations are about sending the right messages to the right places and people, to build your brand reputation. PR agencies work alongside clients industry and promote them. PR is an area that can change the face of the project or firm with good projections in future. PR can make or break a company- giving it the power to overcome almost any obstacle. Public relations improves the "credibility" by playing a huge role. A lack of trust could mean that a brand loses opportunities for sales. Looking at the Zim Government, was this done? What has been done so far to improve the credibility of the country or Government? If you remember very well, majority of Zimbabweans lost millions of dollars during Gideon Gono's era, and it is still in people's minds, yes alas we have a new Finance Minister but still, we are singing from the same hymnal. The major problem is that the public relation for Zim Government hasn't improved and still lacks credibility. So what the Government is supposed to do as a way of doing business they have to hire experts in the Public Relations area to deal with the issue of credibility.

Our Government of today is associated with farm invasions which is still in people's minds, the issue of Murambatsvina, and other political tensions and toxic incidents. What needs to be done, is to work on the image of the Government. Some of the key positions in the Government were supposed to be offered to people in civic society, media experts, finance experts and other competent personnel so as to increase the Government's image. Public relations changes the way people think about you. For example as we speak, social media is flooded with people who attack Government, senior officials, political leadership across political divide, so instead of retaliation, Government must use this team, to explain the roles of Government, Government programs and its efficiency and effectiveness. Currently, the team occupying information ministry are not doing enough and I think, leadership must re-visit this area quickly and make it a priority. Instead of using propaganda to defend, Government actions there must be a strong team to manage such scenarios. Why should the Government struggle to manage people on social media when they have a competent team on social media? During my stay in Zambia as an academic, I had a case study on how PF media practitioners operate? PF media team is well managed and headed by Sunday Chanda. They have done a good job to market Government programs.

My suggestion is instead of ministers becoming too arrogant on twitter, they must consider sending teams for proper research in neighboring countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Kenya for competence purposes. So far it's not pleasing at all. Arrogance won't pay but rather causes fissures and tensions amongst citizens. If you look at countries were uprisings have been effected, the major cause is arrogance and failure to take heed of issues affecting people. These days there is social media which can easily spread information. I like the way, Advocate Chasi responds to people on social media, the barrister is level headed, calm and patient, despite attacks, he has done tremendously well. I for see a situation were popular civil disturbances may come to shape if a proper PR department is not put in place. No need for propaganda, it is a thing of the past, just select or look for a proper team which can do the best and sell ideas of Government programs.

I watched the presser done by V.P Chiwenga, again PR did not do its work, and this caused so many fissures and different perceptions. Public Relations is also key because, it raises the authority of the Government, build relations with key people and managing reputations. Look at how people are degenerating the President even opposition leaders? It is not because he is not talking sense rather but it is because PR has to be put into practice. Mugabe and Mnangagwa are different, their facial expressions, gestures and outlooks are totally different, and people tent to rate using previous perceptions, so what needs to be done is to manage perceptions and this is what development personnel can do, for the benefit of the country. Sometimes, PR is being confused with marketing and importance of public relations is overlooked. The aim of PR is to inform the public, including your potential international partners and creditors. Those who are in charge of selling Zimbabwe in the information ministry are not doing their best except to be arrogant, attacking people on social media and making funny gestures. Never underestimate the power of people, information is power. Instead of attacking people, share critical information. The information team is not doing anything meaningful except arrogance, and such actions will on result in rebellion or causing unnecessary fissures and tensions between Government and citizens. Government must learn from the past during Mugabe's tenure when such arrogance was practice by his arrogant team which did not pay heed to people's call.

Proper Research and Development

Some of the key major decisions in Government are not inspiring basing on the findings and conclusions on certain aspects. For example what happened to Dema project? How much did the Government lose? Did the Government make a proper research? What happened to Kunzvi dam project? What happened to Zambezi water trust project? What happened to the previous deal which the Government clinched on Beitbridge – Chirundu project which was projected at 1 billion (USD)? What happened to ZISCO steel (ESSAR) deal? What happened to Chiadzwa diamonds which were estimated at 60 billion? Government must make use of its human resource personnel to come up with proper research. We have the best human resource personnel in the region. Research is an act of studying something carefully and thoroughly so as to obtain deep knowledge in the same. To be successful, research needs to be organized, summarized and recorded correctly. Findings should be submitted as they and then recommendations must be made public. Research is not just a process which is restricted to the field of science, it can as well appeal to academics, business community, scholars, policy makers, politicians and political leadership. For example before the 2% tax threshold was put in place, there was need for proper research. I'm aware that Government wants to introduce dollarization (USD), but then was proper research done even before eroding the bond notes from the market? We have come up with wrong decisions basing on assumptions and guess work. Economic decisions should be based on proper competent research with qualified personnel. On Government policies, research offers the foundation for almost all Government policies, in our economic system. For example Government budgets rest in part of analysis of requirements of people and on the availability of revenues to fulfill those requirements. The expense of needs should be equated to possible revenues and this is an area where research is most needed. Through proper research we can easily develop alternative policies and can well take a look at the effects of each of these options.

Allocation of National Resources

Budgetary concerns must be based on proper research. For example allocating 900 million to ministry of Agriculture was basing on what? Was it on assumptions or for political reasons? The Government has to prepare programs for coping with all elements of the country's existence and most of these will be associated directly or indirectly to economic conditions. The plight of cultivators, the difficulties faced by big and small enterprises and industry, working conditions, trade union activities, the challenge distribution, even the size and character of defense services are issues which require research. Thus research is mandatory with regard to the allocation of nation's resources. Analysis of economic structure is important and essential for accumulating of data on the economic and social structure of the country. This type of information reveals what exactly is going on in the economy, and what adjustments are taking place. Gathering such statistical data involves a number of research problems. I was earlier disappointed during my tenure as a researcher in 2016, when I was doing some studies on the " EFFECTS OF POVERTY ON WOMEN IN ZIMBABWE", I went to the statistics office and I was shocked to find out that their latest data was 2013 information. If Government can rely on such information can be so damaging.

Taskforce Is Key

There is need for a taskforce which must tackle economic matters. It is of public knowledge that there is a cabinet in place, but majority of cabinet ministers are there on political inclinations basing on their political constituencies. There is need for a proper taskforce to be put in place which can deal with re-engagement issues, bilateral issues, investments, empowerment laws, and research, academic, legal and policy frameworks, and this is important for every nation to accomplish its own goals. Academics, policy makers, business community, politicians, researchers should comprise of this taskforce. This taskforce must be an independent one comprising of non-partisan people who must make decisions based on factual findings.

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as an academic, project consultant and development practitioner and he is studying Doctor of Philosophy at Women's University of Africa (WUA), in the area of development (PhD), he can be contacted at tinamuzala@gmail.com

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Source - Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo
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