According to The Herald, Zimbabwe has once again been invited to participate at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), hosted in Davos, Switzerland from 22-26 May 2022 under the theme ‘Working together, Restoring Trust.’ Whilst Fight Inequality Alliance- Zimbabwe acknowledges and appreciates the need for Zimbabwe to engage the international community in pursuit of national objectives and agendas, it is deeply concerned that the country’s participation does not advance the interests of ordinary Zimbabweans but rather deepens inequalities through domestication of the ideas and policy choices that further entrench poverty.
History tells us that Zimbabwe’s participation at such forums will be driven by the need to attract foreign direct investment under the Zimbabwe is Open for Business Mantra. What is however worrisome is the quality of investors we attract since we have had cases of multinational corporations violating the basic principles of business and human rights with impunity. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum has proved to be a platform to consolidate financial and corporate power at the expense of the suffering masses worldwide. We therefore contend that Davos is yet another congregation of elites meant to share ideas and propose policies which favour the corporate world and maximise profits.
This is happening at a time Zimbabweans are unjustly and unconstitutionally heavily taxed when the rich and political elites in Zimbabwe are not paying their fair share of taxes. Instead of the government focusing much on participating at such a forum, the government must direct its efforts towards addressing the challenges currently bedevilling citizens including run-away inflation and its attendant effect of rising costs of living, corruption and ever increasing poverty which are all indicators of the growing inequalities. In addition, given the realities of hegemonic powers surrounding the operations and governance of the World Economic Forum, Zimbabwe’s capacity to influence the world agenda in favour of the people is questionable considering the fact that Zimbabwe is a developing country and placed at the periphery of the global governance order.
Having noted the above, Fight Inequality Alliance Zimbabwe urge the government of Zimbabwe to:
1. The Zimbabwean government has a culture of sending bloated delegations to international conferences and meetings. If Zimbabwe is to participate at the WEF, the government must have clarity of purpose which must be shared with citizens. This also includes sharing with the general public the size of the government delegation to the World Economic Forum. Taxpayers cannot be funding public officials who have no meaningful contribution at the Forum.
2. The government must domesticate the theme which resonates well with the huge public trust deficit in Zimbabwe and take steps at home to work together with citizens and rebuild the lost public trust in government actions and decisions. Restoration of public trust in Zimbabwe entails having genuine conversations with all stakeholders including citizens in their organised groups and charting the country’s recovery plan from COVID-19, a plan that is informed by tax justice principles. Furthermore, public trust can also be restored through government commitment to fighting public sector corruption, protecting citizen’s income against run-away inflation, and guaranteeing the security of citizen’s deposits.
3. The government must also commit to ensuring that the rich and political elites pay their fair share of taxes and reduce the burden of taxation from the poor and marginalised. This must be done through instituting measures including introduction of a wealth tax which is a moral measure for wealth redistribution in society and conducting lifestyle audits to recover proceeds of crime and those accumulated through tax evasion. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority must collaborate with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in conducting the lifestyle audits.
About the Fight Inequality Alliance
The Zimbabwe Fight Inequality Alliance is a broad-based network of 33 members comprising of social movements, women’s rights groups, faith-based organisations, labour unions and individuals committed to challenging and reversing the unfair distribution of wealth, power, opportunities, social status, access and control of resources in Zimbabwe. The Alliance exists to strengthen collective action to transform Zimbabwe’s highly unequal society and provide a common platform of action to build a just, equitable and prosperous nation. The Fight Inequality Alliance envisions a Zimbabwe in which wealth, power, opportunities, social status, access and control of resources are distributed in a just and equitable manner to enable all Zimbabweans to enjoy their full rights, dignity and an acceptable standard of living as full citizens of their own society.