HIVs Effect on Public Service

The AIDS epidemic affects Zimbabwe's ability to sustain and deliver quality public services for its citizens. Since the early 1990s the Zimbabwean government has been under increased pressure to reform its civil service systems. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have linked continued funding to the imposition of structural changes that would reduce Zimbabwe's bloated civil service. Makumbe characterized Zimbabwe's civil service as follows: "weak government capacity to ensure minimal services, highly compressed wages, inability to attract and retain skilled manpower resources, and a large civil service (192,000) absorbing 18 percent of GDP in salary and wages by 1990/91."45 Recent IMF estimates (October 2000) place Zimbabwe's public service employment at 194,500.46

The HIV/AIDS epidemic also has a profound impact on the delivery of public goods and services to the citizenry. Clearly, citizens will pressure the government to spend a greater proportion of national revenue on health provisions. In a country as impoverished as Zimbabwe, there is little elasticity for shifting funds from one revenue source to another.

HIV/AIDS will induce a gradual degradation of the quality of services provided by the bureaucracy. Traditionally, in developing countries like Zimbabwe, educated elites have chosen careers initially in public service. Such employees are often the most highly educated in underdeveloped societies, many having received graduate education from European or American universities. Moreover, these professionals, because of their high incomes, high status in society, and consequently high levels of sexual activity, were earlier victims of HIV than the general population.47 HIV/AIDS will erode the human capital of Zimbabwe's professional civil service. Costly losses in professional fields (civil engineering, medicine and health care, education, financial administration, developmental planning) are of particular concern.

A significant issue for institutions of governance involves finding adequate replacements to fill the professional lacuna caused by AIDS-induced mortality and morbidity. Certainly, anticipated professional losses ranging as high as 40 percent create great concern about the efficacy of government. Nevertheless, the loss of human capital resulting from HIV/ AIDS-related illnesses explains only part of the attrition problems that the Zimbabwean government faces in seeking to maintain institutional viability.

Losses also will result from the voluntary separation of talented public servants who are aware that their HIV status is negative. In part, this exists among individuals who fear that their pensions will have dwindled away by the time they reach their "full-benefits" retirement eligibility status. The political scientist John Daly argues that this occurred in

Swaziland, where highly placed public servants with notable marketability chose to leave government service early and opted for early retirement and reduced benefits. This occurred because of fears regarding the long-term solvency of their pension plan resulting from the rising numbers of premature medical retirements due to HIV/AIDS.48

The crisis identified above attests to the fact that Zimbabwe's government is rapidly witnessing the erosion of its endogenous state capacity. Zimbabwe's level of state capacity determines the scale of adaptive resources that the country could mobilize to mitigate the negative effects of HIV/AIDS. In this instance, the Zimbabwean government has clearly failed the task. Therefore, its society faces a vicious spiral in the form of a positive feedback loop. As the AIDS epidemic progressively takes its toll, Zimbabwe's state capacity declines, and as Zimbabwe's state capacity declines its ability to institute creative AIDS intervention strategies correspondingly diminishes.

The government's ability to deal effectively with the AIDS epidemic is also hampered by its declining financial capacity. Realistically, under the best of financial conditions, Zimbabwe would have a difficult time developing adaptive strategies to curtail effectively its HIV/AIDS epidemic. Burdensome debt obligations to international financiers, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, stunt the implementation of effective health interventions and progressive educational awareness initiatives. These debts divert monies away from health programs toward repayment schemes. At the beginning of 2000, for example, Zimbabwe expended 25 percent of its export earnings to service its debt, even as an estimated 28 percent of its population was infected with HIV/AIDS.49 The combination of declining fiscal health and state capacity render successful endogenous adaptive HIV/AIDS strategies by the Zimbabwean government unlikely in the near future. This decline in capacity, coupled with a government and an economy on the verge of collapse, suggests that exogenous assistance from developed countries, UN agencies, and major private sector donors will be necessary to avert further degradation of Zimbabwe's socioeconomic and political structures.

As HIV erodes state capacity, it undermines the state's ability to provide public goods to the population (e.g., health care, education, law enforcement), which in turn accelerates HIV proliferation in a negative spiral. Therefore, purely endogenous strategies to build capacity and curb the spread of the epidemic are unlikely to be successful, and capacity will have to be imported from exogenous sources (such as foreign aid). Thus, the desire for purely "African solutions" to the HIV epidemic, while understandable, have been of limited utility, as advocates fail to acknowledge the epidemics inexorable and negative effect on endogenous state capacity. Furthermore, with many societies in sub-Saharan Africa now reeling under the strain of HIV/AIDS, the cumulative effect will be to erode the capacity of the region as a whole. Affected states will find it increasingly difficult to come to each other's aid.

In a climate of increasing lawlessness, a stagnant or contracting economy, increasing institutional fragility, and declining tax revenues, the capacity of the state will be, at a minimum, strained. There are increasing demands on the state from all sectors to deal effectively with the epidemic, even as the epidemic inexorably erodes the state's capacity to respond effectively. Simultaneously, as the population becomes increasingly infected, morbidity and mortality will grow, poverty will deepen as people deplete their savings, and crime will increase. All of this will result in increased feelings of relative deprivation and injustice on the part of the people, who increasingly perceive the government as illegitimate. It is precisely this combination—a weakening state and increasing real and/or perceived deprivation—that increases the probability of political violence within that society, and between society and the state.50

History has shown that outbreaks of epidemic disease often result in the curtailing of civil liberties.51 Thus, HIV/AIDS may induce a shift from democratic to more authoritarian modes of government, particularly in unstable nascent democracies. Indeed, in a climate of disease-induced disorder, scarce resources, and declining government legitimacy, the state may increasingly resort to violence against competing factions within its own population in an attempt to maintain order.52 Epidemic disease has generated stigmatization and conflict between rival ethnicities over the centuries, typically with the scapegoating of minority populations, such as the whites in Zimbabwe. While there is little evidence that the Shona and the Ndebele consider white populations to be the cause (or the principal carriers) of the disease, affluent white populations have been targeted for political violence as the majority sinks deeper into poverty and chaos. As the epidemic continues to intensify and generate increasing deprivation for the majority, there is every reason to believe that violence against white minority populations will increase, particularly if the Mugabe regime continues to employ such tactics as a means to distract the people from their many grievances. Notably, in December 2000, Mugabe publicly stated to a ZANU-PF Congress: "Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy."53

Increasing disease-induced deprivation combines with a weakening state to generate an increasing probability of violence within the society, either among ethnic groups, among classes, or among political elites. It may also foster the deliberate use of violence by the state against its own citizens in an attempt to retain control. This phenomenon is widely observed throughout Zimbabwe. As the state becomes increasingly unable to satisfy the demands of the people, it is seen as increasingly illegitimate. It is apparent that the Mugabe government is resorting to violence against the population. Thus, as the epidemic intensifies, one would expect an intensification of authoritarian rule as the government becomes ever more desperate to hold onto power.

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Retirement Planning For The Golden Years

Retirement Planning For The Golden Years

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