SYDNEY SAIZE IN MUTARE
Mutare residents this week blasted the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance, Budget and Economic Development, chaired by ZANU-PF legislator for Buhera Central Mathew Nyashanu, for disregarding their views, Business Times can report.
Residents questioned the purpose of holding public hearings, which they described as “talk shows”, only meant to rubber stamp what the government considers desirable for the citizens.
They said their inputs in previous public hearings were never considered.
This comes as the Portfolio Committee on Finance began public hearings on the Public Finance Management Amendment Bill across the country. The public hearings end tomorrow.
The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Public Finance Management Act to align it with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
David Mutambirwa, the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association representative, told the meeting on Monday that it was irrational to continue having such public hearings.
“These public hearings should bring tangible results but what we have realised is that we’re merely holding talk-shows without coming out with substance that is eventually implemented, as they would have already decided what they feel the public may want,” Mutambirwa said.
He added: ‘’The problem with public finance is that in Zimbabwe we now have what is called political elite monopoly capital, a scenario where the political elite are the owners of the means of production, so if we talk of public finances when they are businesspersons it is pointless. Business people are known to be selfish, so it becomes problematic when one is in charge of the government, makes the laws, manages the resources by the end of the day. We will see a conflict of interest.’’
Benita Goneso of the Manicaland Informal Traders Associations said public hearings lose meaning when input from the people is not considered.
“I see nothing wrong with the public hearings but my issue is when what has been contributed by ordinary citizens is not considered or implemented thereof. We have seen cases where there is an attempt to have these hearings appear like they are bottom to top approach yet in reality they are top to bottom. In the end (the hearings) are useless. They claim the meetings to be consultative but, what we have seen is that from our contributions nothing is being implemented,” Goneso said.
However, a political science student, Regionald Ngwenya, said the consultative meetings usher a chance for Zimbabweans to contribute their thoughts for national development.
“It is an opportunity for citizens to influence how we manage our resources but one of the challenges with these consultations is that they are too technical for an understanding of a lay person, sometimes we need to have consultative meetings prior, we need to have civic education prior to these consultative meetings where the content of the Bill is broken down for an ordinary citizen to understand the matter on the agenda after which they can meaningfully contribute to this as a public policy making process,” Ngwenya said.
In response, Nyashanu said the Bill was key in strengthening the management of State resources.
“….It is important that the views that we are taking in this public hearing are taken to the Minister (of Finance and Economic Development) so that he makes considerations on how they can be incorporated into the Act,” Nyashanu said.
He added: “This Bill is important in the management of State resources. We will make sure that corruption is curbed and by minimising corruption we’re also ensuring that at the end of the day the State is able to provide the much needed public goods and providing services to our citizens.’’