Outrage over budget debate delays

Source: Outrage over budget debate delays – DailyNews Live

Blessings Mashaya      26 January 2017

HARARE – Opposition MPs have accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF of
contempt of Parliament, saying the ruling party prioritised its annual
conference instead of the crucial debate of the State’s 2017 spending

Speaking during a fiery debate on the $4 billion 2017 National Budget in
Parliament on Tuesday, MDC chief whip, Innocent Gonese, said they were
being forced to fast-track the important Finance and Appropriation Bills,
with parliamentarians given insufficient time to think through the their
implications, consult with the electorate and subject the Bills to proper
scrutiny and debate.

After a budget has been presented to the House of Assembly, two money
Bills have to be passed by Parliament – an Appropriation Bill, which gives
legal force to the Estimates of Expenditure and a Finance Bill, which
makes legal provision for changes in collection of revenue such as taxes,
custom duties for the following year

“We were all aware that the last financial year was coming to an end and
towards the end of last year, we had ample time to debate the budget.  We
have said it before…that all political parties must know what the
priorities for this country are,” Gonese said.

“If you schedule your party conferences towards the end of the year when
we should be dealing with important matters which are affecting the
nation, it means that we are losing the plot,” he said, adding that “this
is something which has been happening time and again”.

“What we find objectionable from this side of the house… is a situation
where we now have to rush through the process as a result of which, we are
not going to be able to do justice to the matter and really apply our
minds simply because we have run out of time,” Gonese said.

He said the MDC was unhappy with how the Finance minister, Patrick
Chinamasa, was conducting his business on budget debates.

“I…and my colleagues feel very strongly that we must not continue having
such a practice.  We should have given this ample time and in particular,
we should have dealt with this business in December without rushing
through it; then perhaps wind up the process at the beginning of the year.

“…we are now coming to the end of this month which is actually the time
period or timeframe within which we should have passed the budget.”

MDC vice president, Elias Mudzuri, blasted the Executive.

“We could have been in Parliament earlier and done proper business to deal
with these issues. This is not about a rally but about a country.  We know
that it is difficult to get resources and we need to ensure that the
minister has reasonable contributions from Members of Parliament,” Mudzuri

“Our difficulty is that when we stretch our days to the end, people get
tired.  There is what they call incised meeting returns and at the end of
the day, we will not have deliberated enough to ensure that we have a
reasonable budget to run the country,” he said.

However, Zanu PF MP for Buhera South, Joseph Chinotimba, dismissed
concerns by MDC MPs saying they still have ample time to debate the money

“Whether or not we have delayed, the time to debate is there as nothing
stops us from debating the Finance Bill.  Even if we had debated the Bill
last month or last year, it is the same,” he said.

“We are saying, as proposed by the minister, let us debate today even if
it means debating until tomorrow, it is fine so that the country moves on.
This matter of pointing fingers is neither here nor there pertaining to
the Finance Bill.  The fact that we went to Masvingo (for the annual Zanu
PF conference) has nothing to do with this Bill.”

“I am saying; let us debate what has been tabled by the minister.  All
those who are prepared to debate should do so because we have time”
Chinotimba insisted.