Five questions Chinamasa must answer

There are five burning questions that Patrick Chinamasa must respond to in his capacity as Finance Minister.

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

In October 2012, in this very space, I exposed the five lies that Chinamasa told BBC when he fielded questions from reporter Andrew Harding about Morgan Tsvangirai’s chances in the 2013 polls and election politics in Zimbabwe. I will not go into detail about those lies, because they are now history. What I am seeking now is the truth about our national budget – for which he is responsible.

A national budget is a very important planning aspect that gives a sense of where we are going and how we will get there, so Zimbabweans need to know what is going on. Chinamasa told us recently that he was postponing the traditional date of publicising the blueprint of how the fiscus will be managed in 2014, claiming that he still needed to consult.

This claim begs more questions than answers, if at all there are any answers. To start with, may the Honourable Minister tell us whether he carried out any consultations prior to announcing that he would be deferring the budget announcement? We need to know how many institutions and individuals he engaged before deciding that they were not sufficient for him to craft a budget.

Secondly, who is left? Postponing the budget on the basis that there are more consultations to be done speaks to the reality that there are crucial stakeholders who need to be make contributions. It would not make any sense to defer the budget announcement because the minister feels that he still needs to talk to cobblers and touts.

While we still have to consider their views in one way or another, it is highly unlikely that their input would bring a sea change to what the national budget should focus on. Chinamasa, therefore, ought to tell us who else is there to consult so as to guarantee a meaningful budget. Without that, his claim that there are consultations still to be done remains vacuous.

Thirdly, why did he fail to make the consultations on time? I am not prepared to listen to the possible argument that he did not have enough time because he was busy with the elections. Government processes must keep running, with or without an election. The ministry has technocrats who should have remained busy despite the elections, preparing for and even making the consultations.

Surely, there should be mechanisms to ensure that stakeholders are engaged well on time for them to make their contributions. Or, could it be that Tendai Biti, from whom he took over at the ministry, was sleeping on duty or was just too busy with his elections also? I don’t know, but what I am demanding is an honest answer.

Fourthly, Chinamasa must tell us whether any consultations are taking place at the moment. From the time he informed us that he was postponing the budget, we have not heard anything to indicate that he is consulting. This silence is confusing, considering the importance of the budget processes and their implications on the future of us all.

Finally, when will the consultations be through so that we can get a budget announcement? Chinamasa must not leave us in the dark because that tends to create anxiety around the future, especially given the fact that since the new government took over, nothing tangible has been displayed to show that the economy will be moving forward.

I so much wanted to go on, asking the minister why there is no money coming from the diamonds since March this year, whether there are any meaningful contributions from industry and the rest of the tax base, or whether China and India are going to lend us money to settle the IMF and World Bank arrears. But I hope he can at least answer these five questions truthfully. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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