Although Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa reaffirmed that the government is committed to improving governance in the country by allocating $120m to government bodies and independent commissions that promote good governance, a closer look at the allocation shows that government is not sincere.
Chinamasa said that ridding the country of corruption, political strife and improving ease of doing business could go ahead in improving the economic situation. He said that as the country marches towards the 2018 elections it is important to foster peace and an environment of tolerance and minimise polarisation.
He allocated $90m to the Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary affairs. This ministry is seized with the task of aligning laws with the new constitution. It also oversees parliament, which plays an oversight role over the executive and also enact laws of the country. Although significant, the allocation is not enough and will delay the alignment of laws to the new constitution.
An allocation of $3m to Auditors office, $3,5m to the National Prosecution Authority, $2,1 m to the Zimbabwe Anticorruption Commission and $13m to the Judicial Services Commission expose the government’s insincerity especially in the fight against rampant corruption which has seen senior government officers being implicated.
The Auditor-general has unearthed a lot of corruption and abuse of public funds in various ministries and public institutions. One would expect the government to allocate more resources towards the strengthening of this institution in order to improve corporate governance and accountability in government institutions.
We have already heard the NPA and ZACC complaining that they are under-funded and the NPA in particular failing to pay rentals. ZACC has failed to carry out investigations efficiently and are yet to carry out any investigations that result in a conviction for corrupt officials.
These weak bodies do not inspire confidence in investors who expect strong institutions where they can at least expect a fair chance of recourse in the event of business disputes. These laughable allocations create an impression that the Zimbabwean government is not committed to fostering good corporate governance and promoting accountability.
Rampant corruption is probably the reason why Chinese investors who were supposed to invest in parastatals are dragging their feet in doing so. No lending institutions will pour money in institutions that do not practise good corporate governance.
Secondly the budget proposes that independent commissions such as the Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission be given meager allocations of $1,9m, $1, 1 m and $13m respectively.
These underfunded independent commissions are expected to guard against human rights abuses and preserving national peace and fostering political tolerance. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is expected to run credible free and fair elections that are the cornerstone of a peaceful political climate and also inspire investor confidence.
Government has already announced that it will be adopting bio-metric voting and it is unclear how an underfunded electoral body will achieve this new voting system. Chinamasa’s pronouncements of pursuing peace, tranquility and a corruption free society are undermined by the budget allocations made to the critical bodies that are expected to oversee the pursuit of these ideals.
Clearly government lacks sincerity in pursuing good governance as demonstrated by the meager allocations Chinamasa has made. Most of the money is likely to be spent on salaries and officials of the commissions instead of operations in combating corruption and promoting good governance.
The priorities of any government are measured by looking at where it pours most of its resources. This government clearly has no interest in fighting corruption, fostering peace or defending and promoting human rights. It is clear that the priorities of government lie elsewhere