AFRODAD carried out media training on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and financing for Development themed “Partnering the Media in Strengthening Public Service Provision through Monitoring Development Financing” at rainbow towers in Harare Zimbabwe between 8th -9th November 2018. The intention was to create an engagement with the media fraternity and capacitate them for reporting related issues in future. Over the last 20 years, African countries including Zimbabwe have embraced PPPs as a mechanism of developing and financing infrastructure projects on a cost effective and sustainable basis. If properly managed, PPPs have a potential to unlock the much needed financial resources to fund projects on electricity, telecommunications, transport, water, education and the health sectors.
1. Private Sector assumes the role of service delivery: PPPs are also means for government to gain private sector investment and expertise for economic development. However there is a worrying rising trend of privatization that in Zimbabwe and SADC region at large were private sector players assume the role of public service delivery. AFRODAD with support from OSISA carried out a study in 2017 that established that private sector provides more than 30% of the services in Health and Education, making these services un-affordable to citizens with the majority being poor. However, Governments' role is to ensure that citizens acquire basic services such as health, education water and food as enshrined and protected by the universal Bill of rights and the Constitution and statutes within the country. Conversely it was also realized that the private sector has limited mechanisms to ensure the quality of health and education services delivered in the region.
2. The role of Media in strengthening Public Service Provision through Monitoring Development Financing: Limited knowledge among affected communities in the SADC region concerning PPPs and the potential long term risks for communities arising from those partnerships was highlighted. Media fraternity has a platform to hold those in power accountable and influence decisions made through the process of monitoring development financing for proper public service delivery on a large scale of political, economic and social outcomes. However, the low level of transparency associated with public PPPs leads to limited public scrutiny and participation, as a source that is pertinent to social impact. Dr T Mahoso (CEO-Zimbabwe Media commission noted that “…developmental journalism is weak in Zimbabwe because of polarization. Projects are not objectively analyzed. Supportive media just plays the role of "booster press" while others just oppose and nobody focuses on the people that are affected.” He also realized said efforts to monitor PPPs and how they are financed once the power and mystique of the financial sector are established; communities, civil society organizations and journalists become too intimidated by the power, language and mystique of financiers and financial institutions to be able to monitor them effectively. He then suggested for the press to monitor PPPs and financing for development, journalism trainings need to deepen modules for what used to be called Development Journalism with emphasis on introducing financing for development. He also emphasized the need to restore current affairs programmes especially on radio and television through offering incentives in the form of grants or awards.
3. Public Private partnerships for Sustainable Development: Mr C Musa (Director, Project Development and Transactions- PPP Commission, Malawi) said that PPPs possess the potential to help Zimbabwe raise the money it needs to fund investment and spur development across infrastructure. Currently there is no specific legislation pertaining to PPPs and the existing various pieces of legislation that deal with PPP issues are highly fragmented. The “PPPs in Zimbabwe” guidelines document of 2004 was adopted as a prelude to a legal and regulatory framework being put in place. He further noted that the benefits of PPPs are plentiful, especially when it comes to empowering growth within sub-Saharan Africa. They spur investment in human development and help secure basic utility services. In the South African example, PPPs present opportunities for professional development of project staff, encouraging knowledge and skills enhancement.
4. Integrating Human rights for financing for development: Mr T Chikumbu (Programmes Consultant-Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development) said the “…Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 4th December, 1986, declares that everyone is “entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, cultural and political development, in which human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.” He said there must be a clear, predictable, consistent commercially viable legal framework that protects all stakeholders in the partnerships to ensure trust and accountability. This legal framework has to: Provide sufficient security for the state and its citizenry. This entails security from the abuse of capitalists who are bent on making super profits at the expense of the majority. The society must be protected from environmental degradation and other forms of natural resource depletion which have catastrophic consequences in the long run. He further alluded that the legal system must also protect workers from the abuse of private partners who pay peanuts with inhuman working conditions when they make huge profits for themselves as the law must further protect complete externalization of profits without paying the necessary taxes due to the country.
5. Conclusion The success of PPPs depends on the government's ability to establish a framework with laws, systems, processes, and contracts that promote financially viable PPPs. The government must allocate sufficient resources to make sure projects are; prepared well, analysed and verified to provide value for money and also maximize the benefits of PPPs.