THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has demanded far-reaching financial reforms in the national budget to be presented by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube next week.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Some of the changes the churches want include reversal of the austerity measures and the 2% electronic transaction tax introduced by Ncube last month.
The clergymen said they held extensive nationwide consultations on the 2019 national budget and talked to about 1 000 people in approximately 42 areas across the country.
“An unmistakable consensus arose from the consultative processes highlighting an urgent need to reform our economy,” ZCC said. “Most Zimbabweans want the direction of the economy to change. They want a more caring economy, an economy that delivers prosperity and justice together.
“They also want to see the reversal of austerity measures and greater investment in basic social service delivery, greater support and investment towards the overlooked informal sector insofar as it sustains the livelihoods and basic needs of the majority of our people, job creating and inclusive industrialisation that also gives small to medium enterprises, smallholder farmers, artisans and informal sector workers fair opportunities to compete.”
The church leaders also demanded fundamental structural reform of the economy to redress the imbalances and inequalities in access and control of wealth, economic power, productive resources and opportunities and gender sensitive and redistributive mechanism to reduce the inequitable care burden shouldered by women at the household level.
ZCC called for an acceleration of devolution to ensure local authorities have greater control and accountability over local resources in addition to some drastic measures to reign in corruption and restore public trust and confidence in public officials.
The churches said there was need to expand the national “cake”, alleging that since 2009, the budget allocations have been inadequate, leading to widening budget deficits.
They said key budget priorities should be education, health, water, agriculture, housing and social security sectors.
They also challenged the government to address some distortions in the economy that have resulted in the emergence of exorbitant parallel rates which were beyond the reach of many.
ZCC said Zimbabwe needed to collectively develop a shared, comprehensive and inclusive national economic vision that holistically address issues of the economy, the environment, industrialisation, skills and technological developments, decent and dignity of work and property ownership, among many other issues.