via ‘Deadwood ministers ruin economy’ – Newsday October 7, 2015
MEMBERS of the public yesterday blasted government for failing to monitor resources allocated to its department and State enterprises.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Speaking at a Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance meeting to gather public views ahead of the 2016 National Budget presentation, participants said most Cabinet ministers were “deadwood” and contributing to the collapse of the economy.
A participant, Paddington Japajapa was almost thrown out of the meeting by Harare East MP Terence Mukupe, who was irked by comments that the “economy was going to the dogs because of deadwood ministers warming chairs while the country had no water and electricity”.
However, Mukupe’s efforts to bar Japajapa from further blasting the government were stopped by other members of the public, who intervened. They said if Parliament really wanted to gather views from the people, they should be tolerant and listen to what they had to say.
They questioned Mukupe’s actions saying he was not even chairing the meeting, but his colleague Munacho Mutezo was.
“It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to give direction to these ministers who are not doing their jobs. They should start with the Ministry of Energy because people are being punished with 18 hours of load-shedding,” Japajapa said.
“The bulk of the budget must go towards energy, and ministers must have a vision of how to run ministries instead of warming chairs and not visiting Kariba and other dams for feasibility studies. You [MPs] are even trying to stifle my contribution and that is why the economy is going to the dogs because we bear the brunt of leaders who are not serious.”
Mukupe had earlier told members of the public that their views were becoming “political”, which did not augur well with some people, who accused the MP of trying to gag them.
Other suggestions from the audience included that government should cut down on foreign trips and enormous foreign delegations, as well as military and security forces spending. They said, instead, more allocations should go towards energy, social sectors like health and education, resuscitation of ailing industries and support of local businesses.
Participants expressed anger at Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s ban of the sale of second-hand clothes, saying if anything, the 2016 budget should promote regularisation of informal traders.
Valerie Jani of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations said departments that retained fees they collected like the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zinara should take that revenue into a consolidated revenue fund to ensure accountability.
Mukasiri Sibanda of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association said there was need for disclosure of mining revenue and a predictable royalty regime as well as information on investment deals clinched to enhance accountability.
Tranos Moyo, a Harare councillor and chairman of the council budget and finance committee, said the 2016 budget should ensure that the constitutional obligation of 5% of the total budget going to local authorities was met.
Darlington Madzanga of African Forum and Network on Debt and Development said some debts incurred by the country were unnecessary and illegal and should not be borne by the taxpayer.
“We also hear of a PSMAS debt and TelOne debts to be inherited by government, but we feel Parliament should not pass those laws. Instead of the higher education ministry getting $1m to support students at South African universities, we should support local universities and only send students to South Africa in areas of need,” he said.
Women’s groups said the budget should aim at assisting them in terms of maternal fees, agriculture, poverty reduction and health, while people living with disabilities and elderly people demanded government support.
Chitungwiza child councillor Confidence Kutsari said children were often ignored when it came to budget formulation, adding the budget should ensure children enjoyed their constitutional rights to food, shelter, health and education.
Representatives of youth organisations also demanded budgetary support and capacity building programmes for youths in order to take over after the elderly leaders pass on the baton.