By William Milasi
Government’s budgeting top priority on the Defence Ministry is not only counter-productive but also wasteful as there are areas in critical need such as health, citizens have said in their contributions of the 2019 budget.
Giving their contributions to the 2019 budget Kwekwe residents recently directed the Felix Mhona led Budget and Finance Parliamentary Committee that government must prioritise other service sectors not the Defence Ministry as the country is not at war. The gathering told acting chairperson Mathew Nyashanu that treasury must prioritize other sectors which can contribute to economic revival as defence is not a revenue generating ministry.
The Finance Ministry in the past has been allocating the Defence Ministry in excess of US $300 million during budget allocations.
The public has blamed the August 1 shooting of civilians as caused by the army’s idleness.
“We are not at war. We therefore don’t find a reason why the army must be allocated hefty amounts in the coming budget. It’s not as if our army is very occupied it such idleness which we saw leading to the shooting of civilians,” said one citizen Emmison Ziso.
The army opened fire on civilians as part of a military crackdown that followed the disputed July 30 presidential election narrowly won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Government to bring closure to the events of August 1 has since established a commission of enquiry.
The seven-member commission is led by former South African President Kgalema Motlante to probe the post election violence that left seven people dead.
Kwekwe councillor Charles Juta weighed in and said government must instead prioritize the dilapidated health and education sector.
“Defence at the present moment is not a priority. Government must look into our poor health and education sector which are in deplorable states,” he said. The public contends that the dilapidated health system has seen top government officials seeking medical attention in neighbouring South Africa. “Our health sector is very deplorable that is why we are seeing top government officials being flown to neighbouring South Africa. Why is the government therefore not prioritizing on other areas not defence,” a member of the public said.
Recently Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has been receiving treatment across the Limpopo whilst Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo is believed to be receiving medication from the neighbouring country.
Meanwhile, Mbizo Legislator Settlement Chikwinya expressed optimism that government is going to factor in the public’s contributions in coming up with the budget.
“It is our hope that government will factor in all the contributions made by the public in coming up with the budget. We are also expecting better prospects in 2019 as this year has been very difficult for the residents. Citizens are going through a very tough time,” he said.