BY CATHERINE MUCHIRI
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube overspent by over $100 billion in 2020 and US$6 billion in 2019 without parliamentary approval.
And it has taken two years for the minister to approach Parliament asking for condonation for the unauthorised overexpenditure amounting to $100 690 788 418 for 2020 and US$6 783 930 028 for 2019.
Ncube also breached section 307 of the Constitution by failing to table the condonation Bills (Financial Adjustment Bill) for the unsanctioned expenditure within 60 days after overshooting his limit.
The 2020 national budget was pegged at $63,6 billion (in local currency), while the 2019 budget was at US$8,2 billion. Ironically, for the 2019 budget, line ministries had tabled budgets totalling US$15 billion.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) said the overspending showed that government printed money to meet its brazen expenditure and that it was spending more than it was earning.
Zimcodd said Ncube’s condonation Bill came two years after the overexpenditure, which distorts the authenticity and sincerity of budgetary processes.
“The unauthorised spending of $6 783 930 028 increased the total budget expenditure to almost US$15 billion from the US$ 8,2 billion proposals. The condonation of the $6 783 930 028 according to the Bill is not accompanied by a breakdown of the uses of the money,” Zimcodd said in a statement.
“This definitely is a punishable breach of the Constitution and stringent penalties must be put in place to deter individuals from taking unitary decisions that affect the lives of many Zimbabweans
“The 2020 national budget was worth $63 billion and the unsanctioned expenditure declared through the Financial Adjustment Act is $100 690788 418 — implying that the total expenditure for 2020 was $163,7 billion. The excess expenditure does not tally with the financing means defined in the budget document, thus the government printed money to meet the brazen expenditure,” it said.
Zimcodd noted that there was no difference between the late former President Robert Mugabe’s first republic and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s second republic when it came to violation of the Constitution.
“For the same period (2019-2020) the minister (Ncube) declared budget surpluses which now do not make sense given the condonation Bill.
The excess expenditures and lack of fiscal discipline negates the rhetoric of strictly managing money supply growth, hence the galloping inflation hitting the economy, price instabilities and spiking unsustainable debt. Unchecked Treasury spending shows that budget surpluses are a hoax, while fiscal consolidation talk by the Finance minister is mere propaganda.”
Legal think-tank Veritas said: “Neither the Bill nor its memorandum explains why or how the ministry incurred the expenditure, therefore to find that out, one needs to look at the Auditor-General’s reports for 2019 on appropriation accounts and fund accounts for the two years concerned.
“It will be noted that the Auditor-General’s figure for excess expenditure is slightly more (by $22 410 626) than the amount for which the Bill seeks condonation. The amounts of excess expenditure are in Zimbabwe dollars which are huge and are constantly losing value through inflation.
The 2019 amount, at the official rate of exchange in December 2019 (Z$16,7: US$1) was worth US$406 223 354, while the 2020 amount at the official rate of exchange in December 2020 ((Z$81,8: US$1) was worth US$1 230 938 734”.
Veritas said Ncube must explain to Parliament why he overspent and failed to comply with the Constitution.
“An earlier Bill published on the 12th November 2019 in the Gazette seeking condonation of illegal government expenditure during the years 2015 to 2018 totalling an eye-popping US$9 638 602 782 — nearly US$10 billion was never revived after it lapsed in October 2020. The amount of overspending disclosed in the two Bills — a total of US$11 275 764 870 (over US$11 billion) is staggering.”
Veritas said in the interest of transparency, Parliament should not pass Ncube’s condonation Bills.
Ncube’s spokesperson Clive Mphambela requested questions in writing and had not yet responded by the time of going to print.
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