KAMBUZUMA legislator Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) on Thursday described Finance minister Mthuli Ncube as a complete failure, claiming Members of Parliament have managed to “put him where he belonged”, while they await the Executive decision on whether he remains in Cabinet.
The MDC legislator who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said this during a panel discussion convened by the National Association of NGOs (Nango) under the theme Public Finance Management: Can it be a Gateway to Sustainable Economic Development.
Madzimure said Ncube had presided over a lot of chaos during his tenure as minister, including allowing over-borrowing by government in breach of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which stipulates that any new borrowing must not exceed 20% of the previous year’s revenues. The debts are now being paid through Treasury Bills with government simply printing the money.
As a result of over-borrowing without Parliament approval, Ncube is now set to approach the House with three Bills for condonation, one of which will deal with the US$3 billion which cannot be traced, but is said to have been allocated for Command Agriculture between 2017 and 2018.
“As a country, we have been seriously affected by the behaviour of the fiscal authority which borrowed a lot of money which we did not have on the domestic market and it directly affected operations to the extent that we are now experiencing company closures,” Madzimure said.
“In Parliament, MPs have been able to put Ncube where he belongs, but it is the duty of the Executive to decide whether he remains as Finance minister or not because his performance is dismal – but I cannot say that former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa should come back because he is the one who actually killed all financial systems in Zimbabwe.”
Madzimure said Ncube was selling Zimbabweans a myth about a budget surplus, adding that ministry officials like accountant-general Daniel Muchemwa wantonly broke PFMA rules by allowing ministries to use money without the Accountant-General signing certificates of receipt of that money.
“This week the Accountant-General Muchemwa ended up leaving his position because of pressure by the Tendai Biti-led PAC. This time PAC means serious business and our reports will be harsh and recommend firing of public officials found to be corrupt and misusing public funds,” he said.
Kipson Gundani, who represented business at the discussions, said Ncube was taking the country back to the 2008 era due to his incoherent policies.
“I think this country is full of theatre performers where Ncube speaks of a budget surplus, but there is no electricity, water or medicines and you wonder whether Ncube is a theatre actor getting excited by mere figures. We have resources that are enough to turn around the economy, but there is no transparency and accountability.
“What is happening is direct printing of money and the same formula that brought us to the 2008 situation is being used again. Ours is a broken country, broken currency and a broken people who need healing,” Gundani said.
Zimcodd official Naomi Chakanya said wanton breach of the PFMA rules will hinder Zimbabwe from achieving the sustainable development goals to reduce poverty, support health education, clean water and clean energy.
“Last year, US$5 billion could not be accounted for by different ministries. About US$4 million was paid to Zesa for transformers in 2017, but this was not accounted for and yet we are struggling with electricity cuts,” Chakanya said.
Afrodad representative Tirivangani Mutazu said the country has not been servicing its debts since 2000, adding that although Ncube was paying the International Monetary Fund debt, they will still demand that the country finishes off paying its debts to the African Development Bank and the World Bank before accessing new lines of credit.
Ncube could not be reached for comment.