Harare East legislator Tendai Biti has castigated Parliament for focusing on “stupid” things at the expense of its important role of providing oversight when it met on Tuesday.
However, speaking at a virtual Public Finance Reform Indaba organised by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) on ZOOM, Honourable Biti said they thought the Tuesday sitting would focus on the ZW$18 billion stimulus package announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We thought when we sat on Tuesday, we would sit to discuss a supplementary budget instead we sought to do a stupid thing firing other members of Parliament.
“So that is a concern, the government cannot spend money without Parliament, also where is that money coming from because the government is broke it has not been collecting money, he said.
Honourable Biti added that the fact that government has not yet disbursed the ZW$600 million that was announced for safety nets is indicative of lack of financial leg-room at the Treasury.
He added that “If ever there is anyone who doubts that the government is broke read Minister Mthuli (Ncube) letter of 2nd April 2020, read President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa’s US$2.2 billion humanitarian appeal at the end of March, in other words, you cant budget for hot air.”
According to Honourable Biti, Zimbabwe has a history of documented corruption hence there is need to quickly reconvene Parliament or at least the three Portfolio Committees on Health, Public Accounts and the Committee on Budget and Finance.
“Going forward I would suggest the relevant Parliamentary committees on Health, Finance and perhaps as Public Accounts, we should meet, we can meet virtually or physically because we not many.
“The Minister of Finance must urgently bring before Parliament the ZW$18 billion package for approval and for debate, and when COVID-19 is over there must be a forensic audit over all resources donated or otherwise that have been used in COVID-19 included donations that have been made in kind for instances where are Jack Ma’s donations?
The Public Finance Management Act must be amended to allow CSO to scrutinise the use of the budget are we complying with Section 183 of the constitution that says public resources must be used for development, so in as much as Parliament Committees must have a role, I think citizens too particularly organisations like ZIMCODD must have a role of forcing the government to fully disclose,” he said.
Speaking at the same platform, ZIMCODD executive director Janet Zhou said there was a need to for CSO and other various stakeholders to call for greater transparency in the use of public finances adding that there was no need to wait for the Auditor-General Report
“In between, there must be strong monitoring mechanisms and this monitoring should be done at different levels and Parliament should be playing its role all the other accountability bodies as provided for in the constitution and legal frameworks must also be playing their role but ourselves as well we need to be playing our role to ensure that at the end of the day we are not going to get many anomalies.
“We also have an issue where our government has produced an economic stimulus package of ZW$18 billion, which is 9% of GDP, we also need to start talking about that as well, the legality of it, due processes, where are these resources going to come from, are they going to come from donations are we going to be able to raise revenue that is enough to fund this package.
“We also need to look at priorities of the stimulus package are they the priorities that we have identified as well as citizens, so we start playing that role where we are not relegated to just voters but active citizens.
“It is in this spirit of citizenship, it is this spirit of community and solidarity that we come and talk and interrogate what is happening in our different localities,” she said. Get all COVID-19 statistics for Zimbabwe from COVID-TRACKER