By Staff Reporter
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has agreed with Parliament to set part of the defence budget in foreign currency adding that the call is genuine.
Legislators argued that since Air Force of Zimbabwe requires various materials and equipment which are not manufactured in the country there was a need to set part of the defence budget in foreign currency.
Speaking in the National Assembly during the 2020 national budget debate, Minister Mthuli Ncube said he felt it too that there has to be a foreign currency component to the defence budget.
“I know the point raised by Honourable Albert Nguluvhe (Beitbridge East) specifically because this I have felt it, which is around making sure that when we budget for Defence, we have to budget for the forex element, especially the Air Force because of the nature of the equipment which we do not make here.
“But at the same time, I am suitably impressed by their skills in managing their equipment.
“I repeat that I am suitably impressed but nevertheless, we have to budget for the forex. So, I am alive to this and we really make sure that we accommodate them as much as possible,” he said.
The decision will, however, come as a slap in the face of the health sector which has been having challenges in trying to procure drugs and hospital machinery and equipment due to shortage of foreign currency and the Minister has not done the same for the sector which is deemed critical.
Just this year the country almost lost the opportunity to benefit from Global Fund for failing to pay US$6 million mandatory subscriptions to the organisation and it had to take petitions and demonstrations for government to commit.
This is not the first time that defence has been favoured in the national budget at the expense of other sectors, for example, the defence usually gets a bigger share of the budget.
Some Zimbabweans have always argued that there is no need to channel more resources to the defence since the country is not under threat.