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This article participates on the following special index pages:
New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
for improved debt management in Zimbabwe's draft constitution
October 03, 2012
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reform process in Zimbabwe, which was a key component of the
Political Agreement (GPA), has opened up immense opportunities
for the country to create a new framework for sound economic management.
An area where this transformation is urgently needed - and
would have an enormous impact - is public finance management,
particularly the administration of public debt. An analysis of the
public finance framework incorporated into the final draft constitution,
using various benchmarks for sound debt management, shows that the
proposed draft includes some important improvements in terms of
enhanced accountability, transparency and inclusiveness in the loan
contraction and debt management process. This will benefit Zimbabwean
citizens, who ultimately owe the public debt and pay for it through
their taxes as well as suffer the negative impacts in human development
terms when it becomes unsustainable. However, there is still scope
role of constitutions, enabling legislation and institutions in
The role of
constitutions in sound economic governance is indisputable. According
to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA),
'contemporary constitutions serve multiple objectives, including
functioning as a framework for the institutions and mechanisms that
can promote economic growth, development and poverty reduction'.
In their view, empirical evidence from around the world demonstrates
the close association between constitution building and economic
norms govern a wide range of areas within the national economy,
such as wealth sharing and distribution, fiscal management, implementation
of economic rights and management of national debt amongst other
things. These norms are realised through enabling acts by which
legislative bodies grant the executives legitimacy to take certain
actions. Therefore, it is clear that the quality of these laws and
the constitutions governing them impact greatly onthe health of
an economy. According to Uteem in Hedling (2011: III), people also
look to constitutions to solve modern problems of the state and
governance and so looking to constitutions to solve problems of
poverty and inequality induced by indebtedness is a legitimate exercise.
Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) recently published
a borrowing charter, which contains principles and guidelines on
sovereign financial borrowing. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe
Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) has analysed Zimbabwe's
legal framework for contracting and managing public loans and debt.
Using their frameworks and perspectives, one is able to assess the
quality of debt management in current enabling legislation, as well
as in the final constitutional draft
of the Select Committee of Parliament on the new Constitution (COPAC).
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