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Mthuli Ncube splurges cash on teachers, farmers

by Staff reporter
29 Nov 2022 at 18:00hrs | Views
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube on Thursday allocated the highest vote of ZW$631.3 billion to the education ministry in an attempt to appease restive teachers ahead of next year's general elections.

The troubled Health and Child Care ministry, still smarting from the Covid-19 pandemic, was allocated ZW$473.8 billion for the provision of medical services to citizens, the second-highest allocation. Most of the country's health facilities, including major referral hospitals such as Parirenyatwa, Sally Mugabe and Mpilo hospitals are in a bad state while basic medication is in short supplies.

Patients across the country are being asked to purchase medical sundries and drugs for themselves because supplies are not available at most institutions. The Agriculture ministry was allocated ZW$362.5 billion.

 The ministry has over the years played a critical role in helping to mobilise support for Zanu-PF by luring votes from rural farmers who benefit from state-funded farming programmes.

The distribution of inputs in some rural areas is along party lines, with Zanu-PF supporters being assisted while in many cases opposition activists are denied.

"Primary and Secondary Education has been allocated ZW$631.3 billion to provide quality infant, junior and secondary education, with the bulk of the allocation going towards the payment of salaries for teachers and other learning costs . . .

"Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has been allocated ZW$362.5 billion, most of which is for programmes that ensure food security in the country, such as agriculture input support under the Agriculture Productive Social Protection Scheme, management of the Strategic Grain Reserve, water harvesting and irrigation development," said Ncube.

Teachers play a critical role in elections, as they both vote and play the role of polling officers. Since the beginning of the year, the educators have been up in arms with the government, demanding a pay increment.

In February, the teachers declared incapacitation ahead of the opening of schools, demanding that government act swiftly on civil servants' poor salaries to enable the educators to resume their normal duties.

In an interview with The NewsHawks, Amalgamated Rural Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure (pictured), however said Ncube's latest 2023 budgetary allocation to the Education ministry would not appease the educators.

 "The money allocated for the education sector won't be enough to pay teachers a minimum salary of US$540 per month. Teachers will remain underpaid. The education money also fell short of our 20% expectation in line with the Dakar Declaration," he said.

 Masaraure added that the government must do more to meet the Dakar Declaration threshold.

"Our advocacy for improved budgetary support towards education is bearing fruits. If we are to use the total quantum of expenditure excluding loan repayments, support towards education goes to almost 15%. We urge government to raise support towards the 20% Dakar threshold," he said, "Unfortunately, this amount won't be enough to appease teachers who still expect a minimum of US$540." Takavafira Zhou, the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, was also not happy with the budget.

"The education budget at 14% of the total budget falls far short of a development budget and does not resonate with the Dakar Agreement of a budget hovering above 20% of national budget for the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education," Zhou said.

"Above all, it is in RTGS that lacks credibility and sustainability and is susceptible to hyper-inflation and erosion of value. One would have expected a budget in US dollars so that teachers could be guaranteed of a stable salary value and restoration of their purchasing power parity, pegged at US$540."

"So the actual value of teachers' salaries remains questionable, and until we see the restoration of US$540, there is very little traction from the 2023 budget. We also wonder whether this is the budget that can usher in free education as enunciated by government as it falls far short of supporting more than 4.6 million pupils in schools, infrastructural development and implementation of a vibrant and skills revolution implied by the updated curriculum," he said.

In other allocations made by Ncube, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) which houses the Central Intelligence Department (CIO), was allocated ZW$161.7 billion.

Ncube said the money will "cover overall government supervision including cost of engagement and re-engagement efforts currently underway, some of which will be undertaken by the Presidium."

The Defence and War Veterans ministry, which is usually pampered, was allocated ZW$331.1 billion for maintenance of defence and security, as well as to ensure the social and economic wellbeing of war veterans, according to Ncube.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe was allocated ZW$47.8 billion to cover its activities while the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare got ZW$91.6 billion, with Ncube saying the money will mainly be for social protection programmes, such as Basic Education Assistance Module, drought mitigation, harmonised cash transfers, as well as support towards people living with disability, among other social interventions.

The Finance and Economic Development ministry got a share of ZW$259.9 billion towards the formulation of macro-economic policies and national development plans, as well as mobilisation and management of public resources.

The budgetary vote also includes a contingency reserve of ZW$74.7 billion, as well as funding for parastatals under the ministry such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, Printflow, and Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit.

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri's office was allocated ZW$9.9 billion, mainly for audit of the accounts, financial systems, and financial management of public entities.

The Industry and Commerce ministry got an allocation of ZW$15.6 billion to cover support programmes for industry such as industrialisation, consumer protection and quality assurance.

The Mines and Mining Development ministry was allocated ZW$12.9 billion to cover sustainable mining development in the country, including mineral exploration and support to artisanal, as well as small-scale miners.

The Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry has a provision of ZW$14.2 billion in the 2023 budget to cover development and implementation of environmental and tourism programmes, including environmental protection.

 The Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry received an allocation of ZW$144.6 billion towards the development of transport infrastructure such as roads, airports, railway and ports of entry.

Source - thenewshawks