Working towards an effective welfare system

The recklessness that epitomises Zimbabwean government today will take generations to undo. We have an impulsive society that lives only for today, leaders who plunder resources for personal and today’s pleasures with no regard for broader society and leaving precious little or no savings for the future generations. Matabeleland needs to break free of this scandal.

A pay-as-you-go lifestyle is not the future Matabeleland dreams of, we are witnesses to what happens when a welfare system is underfunded. If the Matabeleland movement is to make itself relevant to the public, it must present something different and relevant, not more of the same.

The movement needs to up its game and start talking and behaving like a government in waiting. That would mean ensuring its priorities are synchronised with those of the public. The current tribal-baiting whose constituency is a small minority of fanatics is unsustainable, and not embraced by the greater Matabeleland population.

The public is worried about lack of employment, land ownership, increase in poverty and lack of protection from the escalating effects of poverty. Replacing the tribe in power while leaving the hazardous political system and institutions firmly in place is not change. Concrete policies are required in the area of job creation and the protection of our people from poverty and its effects.    

No citizen should die from lack of provision. It is evident in our current situation that not all in poverty are out of work, teachers, nurses and police officers, among other employees can hardly meet their basic needs.

We believe job creation and fair pay rates should be the priority. Work should pay for it to extend dignity to the employed; the employee must be able to live a decent life; even more important those who create jobs must be rewarded for their creativity and risk taking, and of course those who for reasons not of their making are unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life should not be allowed to perish but be protected from poverty.

Welfare system

A welfare system must be fair, accessible, and timely and directed to those who need it most for the time they need it. The objective of the welfare state must be to eventually lift people into self-sufficiency and not to create an idle permanent underclass dependent on hand-outs.

It must be understood by everybody in Matabeleland society that finances used to fund the welfare system are a contribution from earnings of others; a sense of entitlement to social welfare must be discouraged; the system must not be a disincentive to work, and must not become a way of life for any group of people in our society; we will certainly not try and create a legal system that justifies undue dependency on the welfare state and a moral code that glorifies it.

We contend that a welfare system must not be morphed into a career from which any adult of working age apart from those public servants employed to ensure the system works as designed should be reliant on. Anyone who can work must work; there is never any dignity or freedom or pride in living off the charity of others or state hand-outs.

Funding the welfare system

One main way of funding the welfare system is through general taxes of both individuals and business and other contributions through the private and public sector pension funds.

We need to also focus on how the funds are distributed to make the system efficient and reduce wastage. Decentralisation and localisation of the provision may be the best and most effective method seeing different regions face different challenges.

Taxes

Not many citizens like being taxed, very few would voluntary pay into the tax pot if given the option, but many understand their importance to funding government activities including the welfare state. There are all sorts of reasons why the public hate being taxed, the main one being lack of control of what the money does once it has left individuals and is under full control of the state. Transparency would be a good start.

Taxation must be as fair as possible:

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

Winston S. Churchill 

A tax system that encourages job creation and does not create barriers to saving, risk taking and investment must be worked out for the long-term stability of our country.

Conclusion  

Exploring a socio-culturally appropriate welfare system and finding the most efficient way of financing that system should be central to the movement’s politics. Welfare systems are a good means of protecting citizens from poverty; no Matabeleland citizen should be caught up in poverty, no one should die of the consequences of poverty, at the same time how people are assisted should encourage responsibility; none of our people should be made comfortable in poverty through irresponsible state provision but they must be driven out of it through the creation of opportunities to create work and viable employment opportunities.

Published by THE RESEARCH HUB

a progressive politics and policy researcher and author with an interest in Matabeleland human rights, liberties, safety and security.

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