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Zimbabweans Cautiously Optimistic on $5.1 Billion 2018 National Budget

FILE: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa's advisor Chris Mutsvangwa talks to Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe Dec. 4, 2017.

Kudzayi Zvinavashe

Zimbabwe’s new administration has left the broken country cautiously optimistic, hoping for a vibrant economy and other things that make a great nation.

But President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new budget leaves some people frustrated.

Munyaradzi Dodo is the editor of an Open Parly, an online publication that covers parliament’s business and other political events.

“Listen I’m a little bit pessimistic, Chinamasa was just finance minister a couple of weeks ago. Now he is back as finance minister. I don’t even know if he knows what he read in parliament and if he has got the time to implement it.”

Yasmin Toffu is a member of parliament for Bulawayo Metropolitan. Toffu says the budget doesn’t represent women.

“Looking at the budget, I’m disappointed that women have not been considered in this budget. And also if you look at the health budget it is very, very low and that affects women in a very big way.”

In the budget education has $905 million, health ($408 million), defence ($420 million), higher education ($363 million), agriculture ($497 million), while $132.2 million is set aside for elections.

Critics say Zimbabwe continues to fail to reach its pledge of allocating at least 15 percent of the national budget to health.

The finance minister said public officers above 65 years will have to retire and a voluntary retirement plan will be initiated. Perks to high ranking government officials have been significantly cut.

Praise Kureya works for a wholesale business. He is among those who are encouraged by the minister’s budget.

“There were a lot of changes that Chinamasa, the Minister of Finance promised to change. So it’s a promising budget and it looks like a liberal budget, which is actually trying to level the ground for investors to come into the country.”

The budget also proposes the scrapping of the controversial indigenization law, which compelled foreign investors to part with a majority stake of 51 percent.

The law remains in the diamond and platinum extraction sector.

Kureya adds there will be limited time to implement the budget.

“It’s really a good budget but when you look at the time that the new ZANU PF government is expected to implement that budget with the coming in of elections ... I think on timing that’s where the challenge is going to come from there is little time left and they have to implement that budget before the election.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections by next August, meaning President Mnangagwa’s administration will be under pressure to shock the economy back to life and implement much-needed reforms.

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