Zimbabwe is part of the countries which are lowly ranked in terms of budget transparency, accountability and citizen participation, an expert has said.
BY TAFADZWA MUTACHA
Speaking on the sidelines of a transparency workshop in Harare on Tuesday, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) executive director Leonard Mandishora said there was need for government institutions to publish critical documents to the public so as to increase citizen participation and improve transparency and accountability in the operation of the government.
In an Open Budget Survey (OBS) that was conducted by International Budget Partnership, Zimbabwe scored 23 out of 100 in 2017 as compared to 35 in 2015.
“Dissemination and publishing of budget information by public institutions such as the ministry of Finance and auditor general’s office is meant to increase citizen participation on national budget issues is very critical,” Mandishora said.
“The trends show that our public institutions that develop the budget they are minimally engaging and supplying budget information to the public so that is why we have engaged the ministry of Finance and they have developed a reform matrix that we feel in the next round of survey Zimbabwe is going to do better.”
He said there was need for government to be more transparent in publishing critical documents online for Zimbabwe to be able to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
“Nowadays foreign direct investment is shy; it goes to those areas where it is received, but the environment also in which the investment goes is also very critical because one would want to invest in an area that is not transparent and accountable,” Mandishora said.
“So we really need to think through on this agenda of OBS so that it can also at least enhance our drive to raise our FDI, even domestic investment because citizens become aware of what the government is and for what reason, so it means that we are empowered and we are knowledgeable on the action of the government.”
“We are coming from a premise where our image as a country was not good globally, so this OBS index has that advantage of redefining and reshaping the image of the country around the issue of transparency as we know that there is an inverse relationship between transparency and corruption because many countries that are corrupt, their transparency levels are very low.”
Nango organised the workshop to educate civil society organisations, line ministries, private sector and development partners and other budget institutions such as the auditor-general’s office and Parliament budget office that they are being assessed by International Budget Partnership .
This is set to improve budgetary transparency and the publication of budget documents online by the Finance ministry as they are assessed by the International Budget Partnership, Mandishora said.