THE MDC Alliance has dismissed the 2018 National Budget presented by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Thursday as “shallow and lipstick reforms” that will not impact on the economy.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
This came as opposition legislators threatened to vote against the budget if their preferred adjustments were not met.
Addressing a news conference in Harare yesterday, an MDC Alliance principal, Tendai Biti, said there was nothing to celebrate in the budget as it spelt doom for the country. He gave a litany of alternatives that the coalition would implement once in power.
“We submit that the attempt to deal with the wage bill through the elimination of over 3 000 or so youth officers, the attempt at repealing the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, the attempt at reining in government expenditure particularly through the curtailing of travel allowances and conditions of service are things that ought to have been done many years ago, but they are nominal, normative and lipstick,” he said.
“If you eliminate 3 000 youth officers where you have ghost workers of over 200 000, then you have a challenge. The inclusive government used to pay 236 000 civil servants and they are now paying 558 000 civil servants and so 200 000 of those are ghost workers so eliminating 3 000 when faced with 200 000 that is lipstick.”
MDC-T deputy president Nelson Chamisa said the budget did not meet their expectations and it was a mockery that the Health ministry was underfunded compared to the Defence allocation.
He said the budget did not meet the threshold in terms of the Abuja Declaration on health that stipulates that 15% should be channelled towards health.
“We are not going to just take it lightly and absorb it hook, line and sinker and we will make them adjust the budget and be serious about the issues we are raising,” Chamisa said as he threatened the opposition would not vote for it.
“The deployment of the military at the country’s borders and on the streets doesn’t inspire confidence within business and citizens.”
He said the laying-off of youth services was a Zanu PF factional matter and if the government was serious on retirement, this must also affect ministers as well.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube said there was need to deal with the crisis of legitimacy in Zimbabwe. He said there was need to implement desired reforms and ensure that the country’s problems were solved once and for all. He said the military must adhere to its constitutional mandate.
“The soldiers must go back to their barracks. It is absolutely imperative that the soldiers, whether they are deployed in the townships in Harare, Kwekwe or wherever, they should go back to the barracks, that is where they belong,” Ncube said.
“Zimbabwe is not in a state of war and their constitutional obligation is to defend Zimbabwe from external aggression and they should return to the barracks yesterday so that as we move towards elections, there is no appearance of any military among our people who might be perceived as likely to intimidate people into not exercising their democratic will.”
Biti presented a 10-point plan as an alternative to Chinamasa’s budget, saying there was need to resolve the political crisis and structural challenges affecting the economy.
He said there was need to return the country to legitimacy, reconfigure the State from its alleged appetite for coups, agreeing on an agenda of free and fair elections, agreeing on a transitional agenda between now and up to the time when the country was ready for elections.
The former Finance minister said there was need to bring about macro-economic stability and eliminate deficit financing and make the country live within its means.
“We propose as MDC Alliance that we must resort and revert to cash budgeting, the principle that we used to call ‘we eat what we kill’. We propose that the budget deficit of any type must be eliminated and go to the regime of fiscal balancing. Without macro-economic stability, we will continue with the regime of the instability and toxicity that we are seeing in the economy,” he said.
He said there was need to audit the current government debt to check if it was accrued lawfully.
Biti said the MDC Alliance would concentrate on attracting foreign investment, recapitalisation of distressed companies, leveraging mining and the manufacturing sector, ring-fence the current existing balances in people’s accounts so as to protect people from inflation and multiple exchange rates and avoid a repeat of the 2008 hyper-inflation.
He said there was need to institute a judicial forensic audit within the diamond mining sector, reform the financial sector so as to deal with the liquidity crisis and demonetise the bond notes and join the Rand Monetary Union.