Today: February 24, 2024


Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa wants to win, whatever the cost

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has set his eyes on re-election next year, 2023, and will not allow anything to stand in his quest, even if it means he has to disregard good principles of public finance management inscribed in his country’s laws.
Mnangagwa has been on an accelerated infrastructure development – dams, roads, schools and hospitals, among others. He has been using the printing press to finance these projects, which he hopes put him in a best position to be re-elected despite the worsening macro-economic conditions where the majority of workers cannot afford basic needs.
The cost of running the printing machine is felt by all and sundry through the skyrocketing inflation, now topping 500%, and the devaluation of the local currency which is now $1000 to the greenback.
It seems Mnangagwa is not ready to stop the splurging. Last month, his government tabled a nearly $1 trillion supplementary budget. The supplementary budget is slightly below the 2022 financial budget that was tabled last November in parliament.
The tabling of the supplementary budget is a first under Mnangagwa since the 2017 coup that brought him to power. It is a tacit confirmation that the economy is not working, it is being choked by spiralling inflation.
Civil servants have become restive and calls for industrial action are getting louder. Service delivery at schools, hospitals and all public offices is slowly grinding to a halt and citizens are increasingly being pushed to find services at private players.
A few weeks before the supplementary budget, Mnangagwa administration tabled a Financial Adjustment Bill 2022 to the tune of $107 billion. This staggering amount was used without authorisation in the financial years 2019 and 2020.
This is not the first Financial Adjustment Bill that Mnangagwa administration has tabled in parliament. In 2019, it tabled a Bill to the tune of US$9,8 billion that had also been spent without parliamentary authorisation.
In the 2019 Financial Adjustment Bill – a third of the amount, US$3,2 billion was used to finance Command Agriculture Programme. It is the same command agriculture programme that had 85% of its beneficiaries not paying back the loans. Lists circulating show that politicians and functionaries from Zanu PF are the major beneficiaries. Actually, its a vote buying programme.
The fact that this is the second Financial Adjustment Bill within three years proves that Mnangagwa administration is becoming experts in constitutional delinquency. It is unfazed and unashamed of its financial imprudence so long as it guarantees it re-election.
From the look of things, the Financial Adjustment Bills will not sail through parliament until the Treasury gives a breakdown of how much was spent in which department. For now, it seems that this information is unavailable or it is being deliberately being withheld because it was used to fund Zanu PF activities or pay some corrupt deals to politically exposed persons.
It is important that parliament should take its responsibility of holding the Executive to account seriously. Parliament should be questioning how Treasury only realised such massive expenditure without authorisation two years after the effect. The law is clear that that such expenditure should be reported to parliament within 60 days of it being known.
That these things happened and went on for a while with parliament not raising an issue shows the dangers of having a party having two-thirds majority in parliament and at the same time holding the presidency. The collusion is astounding.
It should be of interest for Zimbabweans to acquaint themselves with how the ANC in South Africa under Jacob Zuma allowed the Gupta brothers to capture the State. To also further learn that when parliament acquiesce to the Executive how much unapproved expenditure will take place?
When South Africa became interested and finally wanted to hold Zuma to account, the damage had been done.
Zimbabwe is likely to suffer the same fate. Mnangagwa will ride rough shod every other law on public finance management to ensure his re-election and continued Zanu PF dominance on national politics.
The printing press will continue running and the connected businesses will get more contracts to deliver infrastructure ahead of 2023 general elections. Nothing stops him, but Zimbabwe will pay dearly.