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Zimbabwe’s 2018 budget lacks depth says chartered development financial analyst

Even the new constitution has an express provision for dedicated Chapter 13 Institutions in the form of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) but these have failed to address the scourge of corruption.

The Auditor-General has repeatedly and consistently raised red flags over irregularities and corruption in the supply chain management by various government and quasi-government bodies to no decisive or corrective effect.

Transparency International Zimbabwe reported in October 2016 that Zimbabwe loses $1 billion annually to corruption.

In a study on the effect of corruption on economic growth, Pak Hung Mo (2000) concluded that a 1% increase in the corruption level reduces the growth rate by about 0.72%.

The expected response by the budget considering such pervasive corruption and the stated commitment to fight corruption in the New Economic Order should have been one of seeking to strengthen the Chapter 13 and other related institutions, the independence of the Judiciary, the cleansing and strengthening of the law enforcement arm.

Instead, the New Economic Order has opted to weaken the independent Commissions by allowing for ‘…only the Chairperson to be full time and leaving the rest of commissioners to be part time…devolving responsibility for day to day operations to Secretariat staff…’.

Viewed from superficial cost management efforts this can be considered progressive but, the hidden long-term costs in terms of the chosen trade-off for weakened Chapter 13 Institutions will derail the ambitious drive to economic growth.

Comparatively, the budget allocation to the Office of the President and Cabinet grew by 31.25% ($55m) year on year; from $176m in 2017 to $231 in 2018!

This undoes the perceived cost savings elsewhere especially of the said wage bill for Commissioners which the budget puts at $3.8 million for full time engagement.

Effectively, the acclaimed cost savings will be very expensive to the nation eventually. There seems to be a preference for the consolidation of power around an individual and not institutions, and corruption thrives where the institutions are weak but run by larger-than-life office bearers.

The economy and investors give meticulous attention to such detail.

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