/ 8 November 2013

Zim: Chinamasa sees red over budget

Zim: Chinamasa Sees Red Over Budget
In a press briefing on Thursday, Zanu-PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said that the party was unhappy with Hopewell Chin’ono’s reporting.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick's surprise announcement that he would not present the budget as expected this month has raised hopes that the government is taking the process seriously and looking for ways to lift the country out of economic decline.

Last weekend Chinamasa told ­legislators at a pre-budget seminar at Victoria Falls that he would not present the budget in November, as has traditionally been the norm. He did not give a date, but said he would stick to a January 31 2014 deadline.

"I want time to think, think and think, so that I do things differently," Chinamasa told MPs.

Jessie Majome, the Movement for Democratic Change MP for Harare West, who attended the seminar, said that she had the impression that the minister had been hit by the harsh reality of a collapsing economy and realised that the government had a responsibility to come up with policies to reverse the downward spiral.

"I was surprised to hear Chinamasa speaking on the need for policy consistency and the need to implement indigenisation in a considerate way that does not frighten investors," said Majome.

She said he was not playing politics using the usual excuse of sanctions, but realised the government must do the right thing.

Food security, Constitution
Although Chinamasa said the budget would prioritise food security through the funding of agriculture as well as the need for value addition, Majome said the forthcoming budget must make provision to ensure that the new Constitution is implemented amid signs from the finance ministry that certain constitutional obligations would not be met.

The timing of the budget coincides with increasing company closures, accompanied by the government's inability to pay ­international debt.

Political analyst Gedion Chitanga said Chinamasa found himself in a tight spot as donors were reluctant to work with President Robert Mugabe's administration, with diamonds at the government's disposal unlikely to solve all its problems.

Chitanga said Zanu-PF was also under pressure to fulfil electoral promises.