Budget: Minister ignores civil servants

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa did not consult teachers and other public sector employees in crafting the national budget, it has emerged. Government workers are now suspicious of government’s sincerity in addressing their plight.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa

Following their exclusion, civil servants have distanced themselves from the budget, in a move that could torch animosity with the government next year. Many organisations converged in Victoria Falls in late October for pre-budget consultations and presentations, after which the minister deferred the budget announcement, saying he needed more time to consult.

Economist Eric Bloch said Chinamasa had consulted the private sector “very widely”, entertaining its submissions and meeting them at various forums. The minister has also met with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Bankers.

Bloch said Chinamasa should take on board positive contributions made by people and organisations he had consulted in the budget-making process. “After all has been said and done, political will is the key to our economic recovery,” he said.

The Secretary General for the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond Majongwe, said lack of cooperation and engagement by the minister made it difficult for teachers to embrace the budget.

According to Majongwe, his organisation was not consulted and the budget was a product of Chinamasa and Zanu (PF). He said the Zanu (PF) non-consultative approach to national issues would render other state programmes, such as the Zim Asset, exercises in futility.

“Chinamasa should learn to consult stakeholders when dealing with important national issues,” said Majongwe, noting that the budget was “suspicious”. Education should be allocated above 22 percent of the national budget if it was ever to be pulled out of the doldrums, he said.

As President Robert Mugabe, the Zanu (PF) Politburo and the Central Committee have been assuring the nation that the welfare of government workers would be improved, the outspoken trade unionist said people hoped they might spring a surprise in the budget.

David Dzatsunga, the chairperson for the APEX, which represents civil servants at wage negotiations, said his organisation had nothing much to say about the budget as they had not been consulted. “Our hope lies with Mugabe’s promises since we had no input in the national budget,” he said.

Commenting on the prospects of Zim Asset turning around Zimbabwe’s economy, Dzatsunga said: “Personally I have no reason to be optimistic that Zim Asset will be a success.” He said Zimbabwe had a culture of formulating brilliant panacea for its economic problems, but nothing practical ever resulted.

Teachers affiliated to the Zimbabwe Teachers Association expect the budget to create massive employment, increase the tax revenue base, enable people to access shelter, stimulate economic activity and award workers above Poverty Datum Line salaries and wages.

“This time around the above PDL salary for workers is a must while building youths brigades should be put in place to create employment and shelter for the homeless,” ZIMTA chief executive, Sifiso Ndlovu told The Zimbabwean.

Ndlovu said stimulation of economic activity would create new opportunities for millions of unemployed workers. Infrastructural development was cited as a priority area.

He acknowledged that the budget would not be an easy one given the state of the economy, ‘but Chinamasa and other people in government should implement what they promise through the budget’.

The nation faces several economic challenges, including a liquidity crunch, shutting down of companies, power shortages and poor service delivery, while unemployment estimated at over 85 percent continues to climb.

Children continue to drop out of school due to failure to raise school fees, and the majority of Zimbabweans struggle to put three decent meals on the table as they live on less than a dollar per day. Crime and other unsocial behaviours are on the rise and an estimated 2.2 million around rural areas face acute food shortages, according to WFP.

Observers said Zimbabwe had a mountain to move, given that it relied on mortgaging the countries’ mineral and other natural resources to Eastern countries in exchange for loans.

Post published in: News
  1. msongelwa dube

Leave a Reply

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