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Ncube pampers security sector

THE security sector, which includes the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Defence and War Veterans Affairs and the Home Affairs ministries were some of the departments that got the largest chunk of the $4,5 trillion 2023 national budget, with $785,8 billion set aside for them.

Announcing the 2023 national budget yesterday at the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden, near Harare, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated $331,1 billion to Defence, $293 billion to the Home Affairs ministry, and $161,7 billion to the OPC, which houses  the Central Intelligence Organisation.

Ncube allocated only $76 billion for the 2023 elections saying this would cater for “the remaining activities covering voter registration, voter inspection, and actual voting exercise.

On Monday, the European Union availed US$5,9 million for the 2023 elections.

The Primary and Secondary Education ministry got the lion’s share of the budget — $631 billion, followed by Health (473,8 billion) and Agriculture ($362, 5 billion).

In his justification for the generous Defence budget, Ncube said: “The 2023 national budget has set aside resources towards capacitation of the uniformed forces with accommodation, rations and equipment, as well as improve their remuneration; both monetary and non-monetary, in order to fight crime, maintain law and order, as well as general peace and security.”

On war veterans, Ncube said their welfare remains a priority, with the 2023 budget setting aside $46 billion towards their monetary and non-monetary benefits, as well as capitalisation of their companies in mining, tourism, and agriculture, among others.

The security sector has been credited for Zanu PF’s hold on power for the past 42 years.

Ncube said peace guarantees public order and safety, adding that it was critical for the economic development of the country.

He said the increase in the crime rate, ranging from armed robberies, rape to murder, among others, were a cause of concern, hence the need for adequate capitalisation of the uniformed forces.

“The prevailing peaceful environment in the country should be cherished and reflects the bravery and commitment of our men and women in the uniformed forces. Peace and security guarantee public order, safety and is critical for economic development.”

The Home Affairs ministry got $293 billion, which Ncube said would go towards maintenance of law and order, registration and issuance of secure identification documents, as well as migration management.

On the $631,3 billion Primary and Secondary education budget, Ncube said resources will be directed towards increased free education coverage.

For employment costs, Ncube set aside $2,2 trillion, which will include medical aid and pension contributions.

“This amount includes $659, 4 billion and $336,5 billion for salaries and allowances for the education and health sectors, respectively.  The share of employment costs to total expenditure is projected at 52,4% in 2023, an increase from 42,3% in 2022.  The increase in employment cost level is on account of the need to cushion civil servants against the impact of global economic challenges and domestic price increases.”

He said $7,5 billion would be set aside for medical supplies for public hospitals.

For social protection and mitigation of the food deficit, $50,4 billion was allocated, while $195,5 billion was allocated towards devolution.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti (Harare East MP) said Ncube should have simply presented a foreign currency budget.

[Zimbabwe is in the middle of structural economic crises characterised by poverty, disequilibrium, high inflation, and an exchange rate crisis and total collapse of public services. For the third time in 20 years, Zimbabwe is in the middle of yet another self-induced recession created by high borrowing costs, relentless inflation and a squeeze on government payments to contractors.  An honest budget ought to have been presented in US dollars.  After all, more than half of government taxes are now being collected in US dollars. This would then have allowed civil servants to be paid in US dollars,” Biti said.

He said macroeconomic instability in the country should be resolved by dollarisation.

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