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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 16
Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
December 05, 2011
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Rediscover Their Voice
have at last rediscovered their voice. That is if the events last
week are anything to go by. They were expected to approve the 2012
has been the case in most cases. But the Parliamentarians told Finance
Minister that they ‘needed more time’ before they could
pass the budget. Up until now, budgets were passed without much
scrutiny. The result: The use of a budget as an instrument of public
policy was lost. And this resultantly saw the yawning and widening
gaps between what the Parliamentarians expected, as representatives
of their constituencies and what came out. To say that only last
week we were lambasting the same Parliamentarians for holding the
country at ransom, declaring that they would approve the budget
if their issues were resolved. Now they have moved from the self-serving
people’s representatives to elected officials who stand for
the constituencies which elected them. For that we say BRAVO! What
is needed now is to have the budget fully analysed, identify the
gaps and make recommendations. This is what a mixed model type of
a democracy like ours should always be like. The MPs should not
be deadwood. And to rubber stamp everything that came the Parliament’s
way would be a throwback to the issue of separation of powers. The
executive should not always have its way when dealing with the other.
It is a tragedy that the country has a very week civic society with
a special interest in the budget. It is equally tragic that the
media which should have helped in analysing the budget for the ordinary
person for them to contribute to the national debate has also dismally
failed. The think tanks and the academia are nowhere to be found.
A simple analysis like: If I were earning US$300 in 2011, what did
the budget do to my earnings in 2012?
A simple question
like, from the budget, what is there for the pensioner, student,
farmer, cross border trader or a peasant has not been answered.
There is also another disturbing trend where our budget has been
reduced to an event, there are no monitoring mechanisms from the
civic society or from Parliamentarians. This is important if looked
at the figures released with the budget. There was very big variance
between what was allocated and what was consumed. The question is:
What happened to the funds? Most probably, the ministry chose not
to use the funds or they were not allocated at all. This needs further
probing as it is a very important issue to our democracy.
need assistance. They cannot be masters in everything. They should
be our voice in Parliament.
We should be their ears and eyes in the constituencies. This will
make the use of the national budget as an instrument of public policy
effective. It should never be something passed on a ‘my bosom
buddy’ basis. It should be passed on its merits and like the
law requires, the budget can be passed 30 days before the start
of a new fiscal year or the same period after. As a country we still
have time to perfect the budget. The civic society has a role to
play. The Parliamentarians have shown that they are serious about
debating the budgeting and approved a motion to suspend the automatic
adjournment of the House. This motion, moved by Eric Matinenga (MDC)
allows MPs to debate the budget beyond the 630pm time limit on any
other day and 1330 on a Friday. There may be some grey areas in
the conduct of the MPs but we do not hesitate to say, we are proud
of what you have done. Policy review sharpens and shapes policy
implementation and the Budget is no exception. As such we hope we
enter into the new year in that spirit and mark your territory as
the legislature. But meanwhile we reiterate: Bravo to MPs.
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