MDC dismisses Ncube’s budget as ‘cocktail of cowardice, falsehoods’

HARARE – The MDC on Thursday dismissed Mthuli Ncube’s 2020 budget statement as a “cocktail of cowardice, deception, delay and delusion.”

Ncube announced a ZWL$63.6 billion budget which he said also marked the end of his controversial austerity measures that have driven state employees to penury.

MDC vice president and former finance minister Tendai Biti said projected revenues of ZWL$58.6 were “an illusion”.

“A budget of ZWL$63 billion is an illusion and unachievable but also reflects the extent of hyperinflation,” Biti said.

The former minister said Ncube had, in a pre-budget strategy paper, projected revenues of ZWL$28.5 billion with expenditure of ZWL$25 billion.

“How does this inflate to ZWL$63 and ZWL$58 respectively in days?” Biti questioned.

The MDC vice president said Ncube needed to fix currency issues, and address power shortages, corruption, productivity constraints and a pending drought.

While Ncube projected growth of 3 percent next year after the economy contracted by 6.5 percent this year, Biti insisted that “contraction is inevitable.”

He added: “Zimbabwe is now firmly in a recession and decisive measures were required. The 2 percent intermediate tax on electronic transactions should have been scrapped, Statutory Instrument 142 repealed, Command Agriculture and export surrender requirements scratched and a modest budget in US$ terms presented. Concrete measures for fiscal consolidation, sovereign debt, state owned enterprises reform and major incentives for productivity were required.”

MDC MPs boycotted the budget presentation in Parliament, as the party continued its snub of events where President Emmerson Mnangagwa is present. The party maintains that Mnangagwa is an “illegitimate” president after he won a disputed election last year.

The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda threatened unspecified action against the MPs, declaring: “Enough is enough”.

“You can turn an aquarium into fish soup but you can’t turn fish soup into an aquarium. Put simply, you can rig an election but not the economy,” Biti, the MP for Harare East said, dismissing the budget as a “contradictory mass of confusion and falsehoods.”