CODE statement on the 2017 budget

The 2017 Budget theme was titled “Pushing the Frontiers of Production Across All Sectors of the Economy”, and unfortunately this budget dismally fails to seriously address the relevant issues, and instead, entrenches the country deeper into a police state with 23% of it being in the Office of the President, Defence and Home Affairs. Added to this, a significant portion of the expenditure seeks to oil the ZANU PF looting machine at the expense of creating a sustainable income and employment for our citizens. Any budget that seeks to increase production capacity must address these following fundamental areas…

  • Tendai Biti

    Tendai Biti

    Cash shortage

  • Employment creation
  • Economic decline
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • Food shortage
  • Infrastructural decay
  • Education decline (high school dropout)
  • Health – people dying of curable diseases
  • Housing shortage

The 2017 Budget fails on all counts.

Citizens will also remember that in September 2015, the Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, announced the LIMA Strategy Document, which sought to implement political and economical reforms to put our economy on a growth trajectory.  These were the strengthening of confidence in the financial services sector, accelerating re-engagement with the international community, revitalising agriculture, advancing beneficiation in or value addition agriculture and mining, focusing on infrastructure development, unlocking small to medium enterprise potential, improving the investment climate, accelerating public enterprise reform, modernising labour laws and aligning of laws with the constitution, and seriously dealing with corruption. To date, a year later, this has not been achieved, and again, this new budget fails to address the issues which were raised.

The 2017 Budget is characterised by the admission that our revenues are decreasing. There is no policy framework to support entrepreneurship, which is critical for economic growth. The fact that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has dwindled to the point of being insignificant is a sure sign that investors view the current actions in the country makes the risk of investment too high.

The ruling government continues to have ghost workers, the majority of whom are political women and youth ward officers, who do nothing else but ZANU PF work. These people are being paid and being taken care of more than the normal civil servant. This situation cannot be allowed to carry on.

The domestic debt is now $5.4B, compared to the total deposits of $6.1B, so the government has effectively funded its deficit by taking money from the banks, which was put in by the public, hence the cash shortage. Consequentially, the cash shortage will not be resolved until the budget deficit is removed. The people of Zimbabwe have been robbed of their savings for the second time in a decade, through the same party.

The special maize production programme, commonly known as Command Agriculture is another looting scheme. The scheme is beset with serious administrative problems which renders meaningful production impossible. If the government was serious about addressing the issues, this should have been administered through the banking system. There is a need to put finality to the security of tenure. The government continues to skirt around this issue and no meaningful investment or production will take place until the occupants of the fast-track land reform have a guarantee of tenure.

The public service housing policy announcement is very fuzzy and the cash requirements are too high, which will result in public servants not being able to develop their housing stands. The need for housing in this country is very high and the proposed policy is too narrowly focused on only addressing public servants and not the generality of Zimbabweans.

Health: There has been no significant amount of funds set for pharmaceutical drugs to be available in the clinics and hospitals, as well as nothing for communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid, malaria and tuberculosis. The health system will continue to suffer, as can be seen by the rapidly declining life expectancy. It is shameful that the health facilities have only been allocated $200M, a mere 4.9%, compared to the 23% to entrenching the dictatorship. The majority of people reside in the rural areas and go to clinics, which have no drugs and thus they pick up the burden of the ZANU PF failure. It is imperative to get our own medical facilities to a standard where even our own politicians can seek treatment within our borders, rather than overseas in regions such as Dubai and Singapore.

Education: There is an alarming number of school dropouts due to a lack of school fees. The only support that has been put towards education has been $10M to BEAM, and this morsel amount is terribly little compared to the need, and further it will be abused by ZANU PF’s own ends for power retention. It is important that free education be accessed by all people of Zimbabwe. A failure to invest in education is a failure to invest in the nation’s future.

There is no need to set up a separate infrastructure for the Women’s Bank. The $10M that has been allocated will largely be spent on the non-productive administration costs for the few selected employees and very little will be left to fund any meaningful projects. It would be better if this amount was allocated through SEDCO or other financial institutions and the whole amount of money could become productive.

The Budget talks about a policy framework to support the ease of doing business, yet no plan has been set and in fact, the economic situation becomes more hostile that entrepreneurship is all but killed. The removal of more items from the Open General Import License (OGIL) through Statutory Instrument 64 (SI64) has brought more hardship. The products on SI64 continue to be imported through selected individuals who are now benefiting at the expense of the majority. The high interest rate charged by the banks increases the business risks and therefore creates an anti business environment. A high business risk environment chases away investment.

The government has imposed a 40c duty on paraffin on an unproved allegation that there is misuse of paraffin by mixing it with deiseal. This is a false stance, which has no evidence to back it. On the contrary, paraffin usage has gone up because there has been lack of electricity in many of the new settlements, like Caledonia, Harare South and the people have to rely on paraffin as an energy substitute for cooking purposes. The government using false allegations to make far-reaching measures, which increase costs for the poor, is unacceptable.

In conclusion, a country that doesn’t save and invest in its future, can never create economic growth. This budget fails to achieve that. Instead it entrenches a dictatorship and unproductiveness, through the looting machine of this economy. Until this paradigm changes, we will continue to endure this economy of crisis to calamity.

This Budget can be characterised as a looting budget, where ZANU PF have used the Budget to loot national resources and the savings of many Zimbabweans. The Budget deficit has been funded, and will continue to be funded by looting deposits and savings from the banks, and hence the cash shortage will persist.

Therefore, the only way to deal with this issue and for citizens to protect their future, is for ZANU PF to go and be replaced by a new government. The new Government will change the system, to one which will serve all Zimbabweans and not just the looting ZANU PF.

S. Mangoma


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