BVTA Press Statement on Workers Day Commemorations on May 1 2017

 

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) joins the entire global community to commemorate International Workers Day. BVTA today stands in solidarity with thousands of unemployed Zimbabweans who have resorted to vending and trading as the only source of livelihood under the country’s prevailing difficult economic environment.

BVTA implores the government to put the interests of informal workers first and adopt practical steps towards creating conducive conditions for the informal sector to thrive in line with provisions on Economic and Social Rights in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

We are still aggrieved that the informal sector is besieged with many challenges i.e. lack of clear government policies on social security, lack of medical health care schemes but it is the biggest employer with over 5 million Zimbabweans.

We are deeply concerned that at local level informal workers are facing a glaring criminalization of their sector, municipal law enforcement agents are unleashed to conduct violent raids that have maimed vendors and left trails of destruction. Vendors’ goods continue to be confiscated and disappear on their way to storage facilities.

BVTA is shocked by the selective application of the law where vendors are brutally raided and while street money changers in street corners are left untouched. We call upon the local authority to treat all citizens in an equal manner and respect their equal rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

BVTA demands clarity on the meaning of the formalization of the informal sector when informal workers are made to go through a rigorous police vetting process and completion of registration forms in application for vending licenses at municipal offices but some sectors of the society still argue vendors are not formalized.

We hope this years’ Workers Day commemoration will provide an opportunity for the government to pause and reflect on the informal sector and provide decent working conditions for informal workers in order to achieve an inclusive economy.

Advertisements

It is a lie that resources are scarce.

A lie is a lie no matter repeated a million times it will remain such.  People have been fed with lies that resources are scarce.  Many instances I find myself into heated debates on this subject and I still insist that resources are not scarce. These experiences have motivated me to express my views and look at what scholars have argued and put across on this subject. It will attempt to further investigate the correlation of mainstream economics and the accumulation of wealth at the expense of others. I strongly believe and will demonstrate that the dominant economic ideology on scarcity of resources is not true.

Let me look at the definition of mainstream economics first. It is defined by Davies et al. (1996) as a study of ways in which people make the best use of scarce resources. Robbins (1932) defined economics as the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses. In my understanding it means making priorities on limited resources to achieve the best results. I do not agree that resources are scarce because this economic system was born out of capitalism which is based on accumulation of wealth. This free market economy leads to few people to control means of production and as result have a skewed distribution of resources. Smith (1776) sees the unregulated market as an impractical ideal that puts the concepts of freedom and anti-protectionism at the service of vested wealthy interests, allowing the rich to attack labor laws and other protections of the working classes.

I agree with the above postulation because if the market is left to regulate itself it creates artificial shortages (speculative tendencies) in order to maximize on demand of commodities. Wages will be diminishing or stagnant whilst profits are increasing for the owners which create class divisions, those with power over and wealth  and the powerless who are in need. Galbraith (1970) raises an interesting argument that firms continue to expand the system of needs by telling consumers to expand bundle of goods to be happy through advertising created by the owners. This leads to high consumption of commodities and promoting artificial scarcity. This system to me makes it very difficult to have an egalitarian society which in my view is an aspiration of the masses. Karl Marx points out that people today in a capitalist society are enslaved by the very things capitalism produces (like toys and entertainment), which keeps them from seeing that capitalists take all the money. This means that this ideology occupies the mind of the people through persuasion by ideological structures i.e. media and societal norms.

In contrast to the above postulations neoclassical economists argue that human beings have infinite needs, where nature provides them with finite quality of resources one day they will diminish.  It is further augmented by submissions that scarcity is part of human conditions rather than a product of today`s wealth society.  However on the contrary there is no enough empirical evidence for me to agree with this, besides assumptions and assertions on natural resources depletion i.e. that the next World War will be on water for example journalist Solomon (n.d.) argues that water is surpassing oil as the world’s scarcest critical resource. In order to give credence on scarcity of  resources neoclassical economists have created a notion that the market has “an invisible hand “that allocates scarce resources  among compelling ends by adjusting prices so that supply and demand are balanced. This means that market forces regulate themselves to minimize competition for scarce resources. Let me point out that there is nowhere in the book where Adam Smith spoke about the invisible hand of the market. It is a creation of neoliberal and neoclassical economists to support uneven scale of resource allocation (capitalism), the invisible hand is not there at all (Stilgitz, 2002) and (Smith, 1776).

A historical glimpse of this economic system gives hindsight and credence to the fact that resources are not scarce but are in the hands of a few. This modern capitalist system originated in the 14th century due to conflicts between the land-owners, agricultural producers and the serfs after the collapse of slavery. It is premised on the accumulation of wealth by owning means of production which are land which gives rent, capital for profits, labor for wages and entrepreneurship for profits. The accumulation of wealth led to high production of goods and services which resulted in massive economic growth. This system gave rise to new innovation to introduce new ways of calculating and tabulating economic growth i.e. GDP and GNP.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is defined by Brezina (2012) as the monetary value of goods and services produced in a nation during a given time period, usually within a year. Gross National Product (GNP) as the market value of all products and services produced in one year including remittances or business establishments beyond the borders. To me these are myopic and flawed indicators of development because they pay attention to work done in exchange of monetary value ignoring reproductive work done by a marginalized class of people for example women in the society. This means it deems the services provided free by family and community. It ignores informal economy, corruption, rule of law, and the natural environment as of no value because they are un-priced and lie outside the mainstream market economy.

This system has manifested itself as capitalism ideology. The free market economy is a market where the price of a good or service is determined by supply and demand, rather than by governmental regulation, has led to hegemony of classes in the society by owners of the means of production. The society has three classes (high income – owners, middle income – managers and low income- peasants and workers). This is a result of cliché of industrial owners who influence decision making at political and ideological structures. These mighty institutions as indicated by Gramsci`s Dynamic model, a tool that shows how overtime structures of society operate and interact, is created by political structures to force the powerless and peasants to accept the whims of the powerful. It is a conception of hegemony that is an ever-evolving set of political, economic, ideological, and cultural processes by which the dominant social sectors elicit consent from the popular sectors (Hope and Timmel, 1984) and (Hall et al., 1986).

These summations conclude that these are forces that use persuasion and force to make peasants and marginalized groups to cow to the capitalistic economic ideology. Gramsci (n.d.) supports this summation by postulating that man is not ruled by force alone, but also by ideas, as observed by Marx who says the ruling ideas of age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. This means that gate keepers or leaders are controlled by owners who have money to influence these economic ideas that create an unequal distribution of wealth.  The model also shows us  that owners of corporations are not usually present in countries where they have investment interests.

These dynamics in decision making on reproduction, production, consumption and distribution are reflects political economy which explains how political institutions and the economic system—capitalist, socialist or mixed influence each other as well as income distribution. Simple put the study of the relationship between mainstream economics and existing political structures. It helps us to understand policies and forces that influence income distribution in an economy to ascertain whether it improves the wellbeing of the people or not. It helps us to understand the influence of power in resource allocation to community and country. In contrast to mainstream economics which focuses on quantitative indicators of economic growth whilst political economy considers qualitative indicators of human development in relation to policies promulgated by political structures.

Countries must adopt alternatives to measure economic development and social indicators. These help in policy planning and making of decisions for example Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is concerned with resource depletion, pollution, long term environmental management, damage, housework and non market transactions” (Cavanagh et al, 2002, p203).  The quality of life indicator looks at health, family life, community life, political freedom and gender equity. This help us to understand whether decisions made by the powerful ruling elites benefit the poor and understanding the impact of artificial scarcity.

It is my humble conclusion that resources are not scarce but the scarcity is a result of a dominant free market ideology, which is perpetuated by dominant political structures and ideological structures.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Twitter: mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Social indicators show governments` failure to deliver basic needs.

Accessible and affordable education
An assessment using social indicators in my view proves that the government of Zimbabwe has indeed failed to meet basic fundamental human needs. For example in the education sector, the Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare committee was informed in July 2014 by the principal director in the ministry that for BEAM the education ministry got $15 million instead of $73 million and the allocated budget assisted 83 000 against the targeted 250 000 vulnerable children. 167 000 children did not get support or access education and your guess is as good as mine on the fate of all these helpless children. The Committee was told that 75 percent of the more than two million people are in need of food aid and the government failed to provide assistance. I do want to talk about tuition fees paid by many young people at universities , education is now a privilege for the few not a right and some are even failing to supplement their ordinary due to unaffordability and others also it is lack of access as schools are sparsely populated.
Accessible and affordable health care
The healthcare has also failed to deliver accessible and affordability health service delivery. Giving birth in a government or municipal health facility costs between US$30 and US$50 per night and many people struggle to raise such huge amounts. These costs are prohibitive, leaving some women to give birth outside the health system and everyone knows the risks. In 2012 Parliament was informed that the maternal mortality ratio was 790 per 100 000 live births, compared with 390 per 100 000 in the 1990s. In the rural areas health facilities are sparsely populated, pregnant women walk long distances to receive pre-natal services and the chronically ill and the sick are also in the same predicament.
Clean water and sanitation
The conditions that allowed the cholera epidemic to flourish persist in Harare’s high-density suburbs and just a few weeks ago a cholera outbreaks was reported in Chiredzi district leading to temporary closure of port of entry. On 05 March 2015, 8 cholera cases were reported in Mudzi, Beitbridge and Chiredzi. Cities like Bulawayo and Gweru continue to face perennial water shortages and every year are marred with water shading. The government has not done anything meaningful to find a lasting solution to this problem save for efforts made during the inclusive government and other projects have stalled like the centenary Matabeleland Zambezi Water project.
Rights and protection
Various reports asserts that although cases of politically motivated murders have not been reported in 2014, but suspicious abductions and disappearances, torture and intimidation has been recorded raising fears from an ordinary persons to express themselves and exercise their political rights as the constitution guarantees those rights in chapter four. There are ongoing serious human rights abuses, including the selective application of the law, for example wanton land seizures from black indigenous locals in Matabeleland South guised as the land redistribution. There is also tight control of electronic media especially the public media. The government continues to stifle independency of the media and depriving citizens’ uncensored critical information on performance of government and its excesses.
Corruption levels
A massive corruption scourge continues to hamper meaningful development in the country as billions of dollars leak behind the scenes in the illegal sale of diamonds, other precious minerals and shady deals by some government officials. Zimbabwe was ranked 156 out of 175 highly corrupt countries in 2014 Global Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International. The political will has lacked from government to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission to fulfill its constitutional mandate.
Economic Activity
The informal has increased and no clear policy has been promulgated to deal with it. Threats deal with vendors from the central government and local governments have been an order of the day. The sector is ever increasing, many people are now into vending and trading imported cheap products. The government has failed to put measures in place to produce primary products. Income levels remain low and the largest employer the civil service has a ballooning wage bill of over 80% from total revenue and disposal incomes continue to dwindle as government has failed to make meaningful salary adjustments.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Praise must go to government and council schools that we assume perform dismally. By Godwin Phiri – Director at Intscha.com

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

I wish to add my small voice to the issue of the best performing schools doing the rounds in our media. I feel that these lists are not a fair reflection of the realities in our education sector and with all due respect I am convinced that many of the top performing schools are unfairly benefiting from procedures that others can never dream of. For instance you get schools that will insist that only pupils with less than 6 units at Grade 7 can enroll for form one with them. Naturally the likelihood of producing a high pass rate from this cream is almost certain. Compare that with a school that is taking everyone who applies including those who will never pass even if the sun changes direction, and by the way these tend to be the majority in any environment.

These schools will always produce low pass rate because they did not get the right inputs in the first place. The same goes with A Levels. Some schools will only take a minimum of 5 As and of course they will produces these top 100 performances. Spare a thought for the government school which cannot shut away the other not so brilliant students because it is the duty of government to provide opportunities for everyone.

Basically what we are doing is to give some people oranges, others lemons and ask them to all produce orange juice and then we celebrate the juice from those with oranges. I think praise must go to the teachers and schools that get lemons and are still able under these circumstances to produce some kind of juice.

These schools are doing a massive job in allowing an opportunity for all our young people to access education. In any case surely the teacher who stands before a group of 45 form one students with an average of four units at grade 7 is not necessarily a better teacher than one who stands in another classroom with kids who have 18,20 even 36 units. All I am saying is that while we celebrate these so called high flyers lets spare a thought for schools that are doing so much with very little and whose efforts are barely recognized because our society is so competitive it ignores reality.

Ndatenga Hangu.
Siyajika!!!!!

Resources are not scarce, why I disagree with mainstream economics

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Over the years I have been engaged in community development work. It never dawned to me to further investigate the correlation of mainstream economics and the politics of the day, but economic injustices such as accumulation of wealth at the expense of others have pushed me to put my arguments forward. Allow me to use the following discussion to put forward my insights to demonstrate that the dominant economic ideology on scarcity of resources is not true.

Mainstream economics is defined by Davies et al. (1996) as a study of ways in which people make the best use of scarce resources. Robbins (1932) defined economics as the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses. In my understanding it means making priorities on limited resources to achieve the best results. I do not agree that resources are scarce because this economic system was born out of capitalism which is based on accumulation of wealth. This free market economy leads to few people to control means of production and as result have a skewed distribution of resources. Smith (1776)  disagrees with scarcity, he sees the unregulated market as an impractical ideal that puts the concepts of freedom and anti-protectionism at the service of vested wealthy interests, allowing the rich to attack labor laws and other protections of the working classes.

I agree with the above postulation because if the market is left to regulate itself it creates artificial shortages (speculative tendencies) in order to maximize on demand of commodities. Wages will be diminishing or stagnant whilst profits are increasing for the owners which create class divisions, those with power over and wealth  and the powerless who are in need. Galbraith (1970) raises an interesting argument that firms continue to expand the system of needs by telling consumers to expand bundle of goods to be happy through advertising created by the owners. This leads to high consumption of commodities and promoting artificial scarcity. This system to me makes it very difficult to have an egalitarian society which is an aspiration of the masses. Karl Marx points out that people today in a capitalist society are enslaved by the very things capitalism produces (like toys and entertainment), which keeps them from seeing that capitalists take all the money. This means that this ideology occupies the mind of the people through persuasion by ideological structures i.e. media and societal norms.

In contrast to the above postulations neoclassical economists argue that human beings have infinite needs, where nature provides them with finite quality of resources one day they will diminish. This means that resources are scarce because human beings have unending needs. It is further augmented by submissions that scarcity is part of human conditions rather than a product of today`s wealth society.  However there is no enough empirical evidence for me to agree with this, besides assumptions and assertions on natural resources depletion i.e. that the next World War will be on water for example journalist Solomon (n.d.) argues that water is surpassing oil as the world’s scarcest critical resource. In order to give credence on scarcity of  resources neoclassical economists have created a notion that the market has “an invisible hand “that allocates scarce resources  among compelling ends by adjusting prices so that supply and demand are balanced. This means that market forces regulate themselves to minimize competition for scarce resources. Let me point out that there is nowhere in the book where Adam Smith spoke about the invisible hand of the market. It is a creation of neoliberal and neoclassical economists to support uneven scale of resource allocation (capitalism), the invisible hand is not there at all (Stilgitz, 2002) and (Smith, 1776).

This modern capitalist system originated in the 14th century due to conflicts between the land-owners, agricultural producers and the serfs after the collapse of slavery. It is premised on the accumulation of wealth by owning means of production which are land which gives rent, capital for profits, labor for wages and entrepreneurship for profits. The accumulation of wealth led to high production of goods and services which resulted in massive economic growth. This system gave rise to new innovation to introduce new ways of calculating and tabulating economic growth i.e. GDP and GNP.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is defined by Brezina (2012) as the monetary value of goods and services produced in a nation during a given time period, usually within a year. Wikipedia defines Gross National Product (GNP) as the market value of all products and services produced in one year including remittances or business establishments beyond the borders. To me these are myopic and flawed indicators of development because they pay attention to work done in exchange of monetary value ignoring reproductive work done by a marginalized class of people for example women in the society. This means it deems the services provided free by family and community. It ignores informal economy, corruption, rule of law, and the natural environment as of no value because they are un-priced and lie outside the mainstream market economy.

This system has manifested itself as capitalism ideology. The free market economy is a market where the price of a good or service is determined by supply and demand, rather than by governmental regulation, has led to hegemony of classes in the society by owners of the means of production. The society has three classes (high income – owners, middle income – mangers and low income- peasants and workers). This is a result of cliché of industrial owners who influence decision making at political and ideological structures. These mighty institutions as indicated by Gramsci`s Dynamic model, a tool that shows how overtime structures of society operate and interact, is created by political structures to force the powerless and peasants to accept the whims of the powerful. It is a conception of hegemony that is an ever-evolving set of political, economic, ideological, and cultural processes by which the dominant social sectors elicit consent from the popular sectors (Hope and Timmel, 1984) and (Hall et al., 1986). The two summations conclude that these are forces that use persuasion and force to make peasants and marginalized groups to cow to the capitalistic economic ideology. Gramsci (n.d.) supports this summation by postulating that man is not ruled by force alone, but also by ideas, as observed by Marx who says the ruling ideas of age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. This means that gate keepers or leaders are controlled by owners who have money to influence these economic ideas that create an unequal distribution of wealth.  The model also shows us  that owners of corporations are not usually present in countries where they have investment interests.

These dynamics in decision making on reproduction, production, consumption and distribution are called political economy which explains how political institutions and the economic systemcapitalist, socialist or mixed influence each other as well as income distribution. This means the study of the relationship between mainstream economics and existing political structures. It helps us to understand policies and forces that influence income distribution in an economy to ascertain whether it improves the well being of the people or not. To me it is an alternative which helps to understand the influence of power in resource allocation to my community and country. In contrast to mainstream economics which focuses on quantitative indicators of economic growth whilst political economy considers qualitative indicators of human development in relation to policies promulgated by political structures.

The qualitative indicators are defined as alternatives to measure economic development and social indicators. These help in policy planning and making of decisions. These are the Human development index, genuine progress indicator and quality of life indicators. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development based on education, longevity (life expectancy) and standard of living. This means to measure significant improvement of people`s lives in order to determine whether economic growth trickles down to the poor. Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is concerned with resource depletion, pollution, long term environmental management, damage, housework and non market transactions” (Cavanagh et al, 2002, p203).  The quality of life indicator looks at health, family life, community life, political freedom and gender equity. These three help us to understand whether decisions made by the powerful ruling elites benefit the poor.  

It is my humble conclusion that resources are not scarce but the scarcity is a result of a dominant free market ideology, which is perpetuated by dominant political structures and ideological structures.