Biti’s budget presentation postponed due to Mugabe’s absence

Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s 2012 budget presentation to Parliament has been postponed, reportedly because of the absence of Robert Mugabe who is in Hong Kong attending daughter Bona’s university graduation.

Tendai Biti
Tendai Biti

The budget presentation has been moved from Thursday, to next week Wednesday. Our correspondent in Harare, Simon Muchemwa, told us Mugabe’s frequent trips to the Far East are now causing consternation because they are creating a state of paralysis in government.

‘Nothing happens when he is away. The weekly Monday meetings with other GPA principles are cancelled when he’s not in the country and so too are cabinet meetings.

‘The number of times he’s been away has grown steadily this year and you sense there is a growing feeling it is beginning to seriously affect government business,’ Muchemwa said.

Mugabe left for the Far East on Friday, his eighth trip to the region since January. The ZANU PF leader has also spent an extravagant amount of money on foreign travel this year, gobbling up over US$20 million. This amount is beyond Mugabe’s US$15 million travel budget for 2011.

The 87 year-old is believed to travel to the Far East to seek medical treatment for prostrate cancer. His aides deny this, leaving Zimbabweans to speculate on the seriousness of his ailment.

During his latest visit Mugabe, and his wife, on Tuesday witnessed Bona graduate with a Bachelor of Accountancy degree at the City University in Hong Kong. From there, Mugabe and his delegation will travel to Beijing, China for a state visit.

A source told SW Radio Africa the postponement of the budget presentation is expected to give Biti time to realign it to the new expectations arising from the export of rough diamonds from three mining operations in the vast Marange fields.

The Kimberley Process earlier this month gave Zimbabwe the green light to export the controversial Marange diamonds that the government says will generate US$2 billion per year. Some observers have questioned this figure, saying it is much lower.

The national budget for 2012 is expected to be $3.5 billion, up from $2.7 billion this year.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission last month submitted a $200 million budget to the Treasury for both the referendum and the general elections, set for 2012. – SW Radio Africa News

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *