Zimbabwe needs overhaul of insurance regime

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Nick Mangwana View from the Diaspora
Some people say that the higher the number of taxes a people pay, the greater the failure to build a civilised society. Another clever individual said a government can wreck businesses by confiscating its money via taxation.Maybe this is the thinking in some people when they decide to increase taxes but don’t want to say they are increasing the taxes. They will tell you they are considering charging a levy for a specific purpose.

Just like our Government, which is contemplating charging a new tax regime called the fuel levy. The reasoning behind this is to ensure that all victims of road traffic accidents have a fund from which they can be compensated for any such road tragedies.

This sounds like a very noble idea whose intention should be applauded. But how efficacious is this idea? How viable is this in our current climate and is there no other way to approach this?

How do we explain the insurance policies we all compulsorily buy that all vehicles must have to be on the road? And how many levies have Zimbabweans paid over the years which have not ended benefiting the targeted end ­user?

One of the things that starts alarm bells ringing is the lack of accountability and transparency of money from the public. Issues like how much do the police collect in fines periodically and what is it being used for?

It is as if these are not public bodies or institutions and the public does not have a right to know. But we do have a right to know. Sharing this information avoids a lot of unhelpful speculation and negative perception. If we have nothing to hide, then let’s publish.

Tollgate fees are a type of a tax which the public pays to get its roads sorted out and made safe. That safety should also be the focus of our Government and not the compensation of the public after the fact.

What is happening to the money collected every day at these sites because surely our roads were recently declared a state of national disaster and yet we continue to pay? The Registrar­General is also collecting all this passport money which is not going to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. How much is being collected and what is it being used for? This is public money and it should be disclosed.

We should account through open disclosure for the money we collect already before we collect further money which a sceptic public does not believe will end where it is meant to end.

There is no doubt that our roads are death traps and something should be done expeditiously. We have an average of 2 000 Zimbabweans dying on our roads every year. A lot more are maimed. But all we seem to think about is how to make money. That’s exactly how it seems.

Why are we talking of closing the stable doors when the horse has bolted? We are talking of how to compensate the bereaved and the injured; why are we not addressing the issues that cause these accidents with conviction?

The state of our roads is a clear factor. Some would argue that we have dualisation coming. It is surely coming and thank you. But by the time it covers the whole country how many orphans, widows and cripples would these roads have created?

Potholes are not solved by dualisation. They are solved by the maintenance of what we have. And we are being levied tollgate fees for that. Yet now we have moved on and are thinking of another levy on top of the insurance policy which every car has.

In fact, let’s dwell a bit on the issue of the insurance policy. The purpose of an insurance policy is that claims can be made against it in the event of the triggering event occurring during the subsistence of the policy.

A sizeable number of vehicle insurance policies in existence in Zimbabwe right now are Third Party policies. This means that whilst they may not cover the insured against losses they may suffer because of an unforeseen occurrence, all other parties adversely affected by the occurrence (in this accident) should be compensated for it.

So, in short, every vehicle in Zimbabwe at least covers third parties in the case of an accident. Now we are contemplating forcing every driver to pay an extra buffer in terms of a fuel levy for the same purpose?

Source: The Herald

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