ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe has all but confirmed his growing fears of angry masses through his regime’s 2016 national budget largely skewed in favour of the country’s security organs.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa Thursday placed the home affairs, defence ministries and state intelligence top of the list of portfolios due to receive the largest chunk of his $4 billion budget next year.
Meanwhile, the move has elicited strong rebuke from critics who feel President Mugabe, whose unpopular economic policies have birthed massive starvation and unemployment, was now pre-occupied with his own safety.
Announcing his budgetary statement, Chinamasa admitted his budget was constrained by a myriad of adversities and was quick to say it was intended to keep government running.
He gave the largest chunk of his budget, at nearly 24 per cent, to the education ministry but put the home affairs, which is the parent ministry of the police, and defence ahead of the rest.
“Mr Speaker, Sir, I have allocated $395, 85 million or 11, 65 per cent of recurrent expenditure to Home Affairs. This makes the ministry the second largest,” Chinamasa said.
“Mr Speaker Sir, defence with an allocation of $357, 67 million is the third largest vote. This is a key ministry given the need to maintain peace and security in our country.”
The Treasury chief said recurrent expenditure for next year would be dominated by Primary and Secondary Education, Home Affairs, Defence, Health and Child Care, Higher and Tertiary Education ministries; and the Office of the President and Cabinet, among the biggest beneficiaries.
These nine votes, he said, constitute 82, 86 per cent of the total recurrent excluding constitutional and statutory provision.
Political analyst Vince Musewe said Chinamasa misplaced his priorities by granting the biggest votes to non-productive portfolios such as home affairs and defence.
“They are gathering the centre; it is like ‘give money to the centre so that the centre can protect itself'” Musewe told NewZimbabwe.com Thursday.
“Giving money to the police and the army and the President’s office is ridiculous. Looking at the way things are.
“We have got problems when you start allocating more money to defence
and yet people don’t have jobs. People are going to get hungry text year.”
Similarly, Harare based economist Christopher Mugaga said the cherry-picking of security ministries for more generous allocations by the current government was deliberate.
“It is because he (Mugabe) can no longer trust you people. There is hunger, there are problems in Zimbabwe. He needs to be secure from your threat,” he said.
Mugaga dismissed the entire budget by Chinamasa, saying it spoke of a government which was desperately trying to avert an impending economic implosion.
“It is a very uninspiring budget. It is a budget which was made out of the need to announce it, out of the need to satisfy a statutory requirement than a requirement of the economy.
“There is no way this budget is going to shift the economy. There is no way this budget is going to shift the economy. It is not pro-poor, neither is it pro-rich.”
MDC-T MP and former investment promotion Tapiwa Mashakada said Chinamasa’s was merely hoodwinking the security organs into believing
their needs were being taken care of.
“It is just an academic exercise of allocating money which is not there,” he said.
“They won’t be compensated because the money is not there. It is just posturing so that they can be motivated but the money is not there. It is just a budget that is dependant on anticipated revenue but the money is not there.”
In her recent “meet-the-people” rallies, President Mugabe’s wife, Grace has pleaded with Zimbabweans not to consider revolting against their government the Libyan way.