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We dont throw away citizens views, says Parliament

Parliament Budget Office (PBO) director Pepukai Chivore has urged Zimbabweans to continue participating in Parliament public consultations, adding that all the views are captured and considered.

Section 13(2) of the Zimbabwe Constitution calls on the government to involve the people in the formulation and implementation of development plans programs that affect them.

However, there has been a general feeling in Zimbabwe that most of what people say especially during public hearings conducted by Parliament are just a tick-box exercise as their views are never taken into account.

A few years ago, Parliament went ahead and passed the Constitutional Amendment Number 1, despite it being rejected by the majority of the people during consultations.

According to political analysts, that development broke the hearts of many people resulting in them taking a stance to not attend or participate in the public consultations again.

Most public hearings conducted by various Parliamentary Committees have since failed to draw meaningful attendance.

However, speaking during a ZIMCODD Public Finance Management Reform virtual Indaba, Chivore said all views are captured and considered.

“There are issues around people having no confidence to participate in public hearings because they think that what they say is not taken on board, let me assure you, as the budget office we have captured everyone else views across Zimbabwe.

“Whoever said something about the 2020 Budget we captured it and its contained in the Citizens Budget Document and then the last 2 pages of the document we dedicated them to what the Minister of Finance did with what people said, uptake of the recommendations giving even the page numbers in the budget to say people had said do this,” he said.

Chivore added that everything that people say is recorded verbatim and is sent to the Ministry Finance for consideration.

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“Those recording devices that we carry we don’t delete soon after, we have the records even now in verbatim, in your own words what you said so we want to hold the government accountable and say people said this what have you done.

“We take them as you said to the ministry of finance and we are now reporting to you citizen (in the Citizens Budget Document) to say this is what you said and this is what the ministry of Fiance took on board and this is till outstanding can we pursue this issue in the current financial year or you want to re-modify it,” he said.

Zimbabweans are also not happy with the choice of venues used by Parliament for public consultations some of which require that people spend money to travel to the centres while some like hotels are said to be intimidating for most ordinary citizens.

However, Parliament has always complained that it has no enough resources to conduct public hearings at every venue or centre across the country as is expected by the public.

The Parliament Budget Office director also took the opportunity to appeal to civic society organisations (CSO) to educate people on budgets adding that what most people say during the consultations are not in line with the budget.

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“We have realised for some of the contributions people come and say the ministries are too many can you remove some of them.

“Some people dont understand what is it that you need to contribute to the budget because some of the things they say are beyond Parliament and also even beyond even the minister of finance.

“CSO go out there in the public and inform them on what issues they need to say during budget consultations so that we get meaningful contributions during consultation,” he said.

According to principles of good budgeting, information about budgets should be availed to the stakeholders so that they are able to participate in the processes and that budgets must be participatory in nature. Get all COVID-19 statistics for Zimbabwe from COVID-TRACKER

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is the news editor for OpenParlyZW an online platform that covers Parliament of Zimbabwe activities using social media (Twitter and Facebook). He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum and a board member of Digital Communication Network.

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