Friday, 15 November 2019

GOVT ACTS ON SOLDIERS' HUNGER


FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has allocated ZW$6,6 billion to the country’s security sector, out of the ZW$63,8 billion 2020 national budget, as the government moves to avert hunger and poor resourcing in the armed forces.

Presenting the budget in Parliament yesterday, Ncube said the allocation was done in recognition of the need to ensure that the security services are fully funded to enable them to discharge their constitutional mandate.

Ncube allocated ZW$3,11 billion to the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans, ZW$2,8 billion to Home Affairs and ZW$708 million to the Prisons and Correctional Services. This represents 10,3% of the total budget. This comes as Ncube has failed to allocate adequate funds to the health sector as required by the Abuja declaration. 

The Finance minister allocated a 10,1% (ZW$6,5 billion) to the already struggling crucial sector instead of the stipulated 15%.

Ncube has also prioritised the security services ahead of the Ministries of Industry, Agriculture and the Mining, which are crucial for the economic growth.

“Notwithstanding the current resource constraints, Treasury has been prioritising allocations and disbursements to the security sector. However, more needs to be done given the state of affairs,” Ncube said in his statement.

“The 2020 budget will also ensure that we address issues of accommodation, equipment, mobility, and institutional provisions as well as medical facilities.

Already, Treasury is supporting the extension of Manyame Hospital, construction of housing units at Dzivaresekwa, Tomlinson flats among other interventions.

“In the same vein, government will leverage on the expertise of the security sector in implementation of projects and the need to capacitate the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. I propose allocations to the security cluster as follows: Defence and War Veterans, ZW$3,1 billion; Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, ZW$2,8 billion.” 

This follows revelations that there was growing disquiet within the rank and file of the military over the rising cost of living, poor salaries and difficult working conditions, with government now desperate for solutions to avert a security crisis.

Senior and middle-level military officers, some of whom are directly involved in civil-military relations and intelligence, last week revealed widespread unease over the deteriorating economic situation in the country, underpinned by skyrocketing prices, high cost of living and hyperinflation, which have rendered salaries worthless.

They said junior officers are unhappy about the unfulfilled promises made by the authorities in the aftermath of the military coup which toppled the late former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Ncube told editors last week that he was alive to the prospects of instability and pledged to avail more resources to the military.

War veterans were also catered for in the budget. “The 2020 national budget will, therefore, strive to provide for medical provisions, school fees and pension for our war veterans given their immense sacrifice to the nation. This will also include funds for income generating projects with ZW$1,5 million having been already availed for a cattle rearing project,” Ncube said.

The Finance minister said the ZW$6,5 billion allocated to health care was meant to cater for health infrastructure, personnel welfare, medicines, drugs, and sundries, among other essential hospital equipment and necessities.

“Government will, therefore, continue to focus on creating a highly developed human capital in primary, secondary and tertiary education, and has accordingly allocated ZW$8,5 billion for Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and ZW$2,2 billion for Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development for their various programmes,” he said.

He allocated ZW$293,2 million to the ministry of Mines and Mining Development for its capacitation in terms of planning, promotion of exploration, data capturing and automation, among others.

In relation to Industry, Ncube said Treasury would capitalise the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) by ZW$240 million to enable it to undertake its mandate effectively.

“IDC will focus on promotion of research and development to increase productivity, diversification and broadening product range and creating opportunities for job creation,” Ncube said.

Overall, he allocated ZW$368 million to the Industry and Commerce ministry.

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry got an allocation of ZW$291 million. Ncube allocated ZW$2,6 billion for infrastructure development, which will go towards investments in roads, water, energy, construction, ICT and social sector infrastructure
Roads rehabilitation programmes will spend ZW$1,2 billion, while dam construction will cost ZW$1,4 billion. Zimbabwe Independent

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