17 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Priorities On Show As Mugabe's Office Allocated Over U.S $200 Million

ZANU PF's priorities have been reflected in the national budget allocations, with over $200 million being set aside for Robert Mugabe's office.

According to a Government Gazette outlining the budget allocations by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, the Office of the President was allocated $206 million, which is 5,6% of the total US$3.6 billion budget allocation.

This is about six times what Mugabe's office was allocated by former Finance Minister Tendai Biti in the 2013 budget, who only allocated $36.3 million.

Departments that fall under the Office of the President include the offices of the vice-presidents, ministers of state and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

The allocation has come as a surprise to many, with significant budget cuts beingfelt across most Zim government ministries. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce for example has only been allocated $7.4 million, which Minister Mike Bimha has said will only pay for the day to day running of his ministry and nothing else.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabhiza told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs this week that the Ministry had requested $279 million but was allocated only $108 million.

At the same time, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) have not featured in the budget allocations at all.

Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera told SW Radio Africa that the budget allocations are "a clear reflection of this government's priorities and how the government intends to run things."

"It is a reflection on how the government intends to pamper the President's office. It could also be a sign that he (Mugabe) will be engaged in more foreign travel, and this budget means he won't be restricted," Kuchera said.

He added: "The allocations are out of line with what people had expected and hoped. Some of that money could be better used in other areas, like education or health or social services."

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