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Zimbabwe Finance Minister Biti Tries to Curb Costly Official Foreign Travel

  • Gibbs Dube

Bulawayo economist Eric Bloch said President Robert Mugabe should be the first to cut spending by cutting his entourage of 70, mainly security agents and functionaries of his ZANU-PF party

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti told Parliament on Monday that the national unity government in Harare spent some US$3.9 million on travel last month despite warnings that this spending category is getting out of hand.

Biti said the government is in the process of drafting a Public Finances Management Bill in an effort to restrict official spending to manageable levels.

Economists said Zimbabwe's president, prime minister and other top officials should stop attending unproductive meetings and conferences to cut foreign travel spending, as little of tangible benefit resulted from most trips abroad by officials last year.

They recommended that the Cabinet come up with a list of workshops and conferences to be attended by the president and his deputies, the prime minister and his deputies, Cabinet ministers and other state officials, which are likely to benefit Zimbabwe.

Economist Eric Bloch said President Robert Mugabe should be the first to cut spending by cutting his entourage of 70, mainly security agents and ZANU-PF functionaries.

“One does not need to send more than 15 people for an international conference and above all we need great responsibility from the president’s office,” said Bloch.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government is paying out some US$20 million a month to 75,000 "ghost workers," according to The Sunday Times of South Africa which quoted an Ernst & Young audit commissioned by the Public Service Ministry. The survey said most no-show workers were unqualified and untrained ZANU-PF youth supporters.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe said the findings show a high level of mismanagement in government.

Public Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro could not be reached for comment.

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