BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has called for increased budgetary allocations to independent commissions to enable them to fulfil their mandate in aiding democracy.
The Constitution provides for independent commissions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.
Underfunding has, however, crippled their operations, notably Zacc, which has to deal with widespread graft in the country committed by the elite while the general citizenry swims in poverty.
“In line with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, of which Zimbabwe is a signatory, Treasury should ensure adequate and timely provision of funds to institutions that support democracy, so that they can perform their assigned missions efficiently and effectively,” Misheck Mataranyika, the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson said while presenting the committee’s budget proposal.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube will announce the 2022 national budget next month.
“Based on the national budget for the past two years, Treasury allocations to the NPRC have trailed those of other Chapter 12 commissions in spite of the fact that the NPRC has a sunset clause that would naturally require it to accelerate implementation of its constitutional mandate. The committee therefore implores the Treasury to consider proportional fairness on budget allocations among all commissions.
“There is a need to adequately fund the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) towards the delimitation exercise, in view of the fact that the 2023 harmonised elections are fast approaching. There is also a need to adequately fund accelerated peace building and election conflict prevention programmes.”
A delimitation exercise is provided for under section 161(1) of the Constitution on delimitation of electoral boundaries.
In June, government announced that the population census would kick off in April next year, with results expected in August, while the delimitation exercise — creation of new electoral boundaries — is expected to start in October, ending in December 2022.
Ncube allocated $2,3 billion to Zec in his 2021 budget against $12,4 billion that the commission had indicated it needed for the coming year.
Of the $2,3 billion allocated to Zec, $1,744 billion is meant to fund the delimitation exercise.
“In line with the devolution policy, it is desirable for the commissions to be decentralised to all provincial capitals of the country and significant budget support has to be provided to make this a reality,” Mataranyika added.