BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
GOVERNMENT has been urged to renegotiate the social contract with its citizens after it failed to reinvest collected taxes into human development initiatives.
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) revealed that failure by government to rebuild social contract would result in tax non-compliance.
“The issue of the social contract that exist between government as duty bearers and citizens as rights holders is of utmost importance when talking about tax justice issues. When citizens pay tax, they literally expect the government to reinvest that revenue in financing human development initiatives,” the organisation said.
“When the social contract disintegrates, citizens lose trust in the duty bearers and lack of trust and confidence undermines tax compliance much needed in effective taxation. Despite the huge sums of money collected through taxes, the abrogation of citizens’ social and economic rights in Zimbabwe is regrettable and there is need for the government of Zimbabwe to renegotiate the social contract,” Zimcodd said.
The lobby group said there was a strong correlation between sound and transparent public finance management and the enjoyment of basic social services by citizens.
“For example, if government uses the 2% tax revenue to invest in healthcare, housing, water and sanitation as well as improving infrastructure, citizens will be more than willing to religiously pay their taxes,” it said.
“Education which is a basic right guaranteed in section 75 of the Constitution, from a tax justice perspective should be free from early childhood development (ECD) to tertiary level, because taxes should be reinvested in funding these critical social service sectors.”
Zimcodd said revenue collected from taxes must be channelled towards national development.Pension funds, for example, that the State collects through worker contributions throughout a certain working period must be invested in strategic sectors of the economy so that when workers reach retirement age, they won’t struggle to lead normal and sustainable lives.
“However, in Zimbabwe normal and sustainable lives for pensioners have remained a pipe dream, as their lifetime contributions were eroded due to the obtaining fiscal regime. This is a glaring tax injustice on the side of an ordinary citizen,” it said.
As the economic crises continue to deepen, Zimcodd said it was critical for young people to be capacitated in order for them to hold the government accountable in the use of public resources and revenue collected through tax.
“This is important because the misuse and abuse of these public funds is largely felt by the youth who constitute over 60% of the population,” the organisation said.
“Nevertheless, given the technical nature of taxation there is need to capacitate youths for them to engage meaningfully in knowledge-based advocacy and activism towards a progressive, fair and just taxation system,” Zimcodd said.