MUTARE– Citizens in Manicaland province have expressed concern over the lack of social protection in the proposed national 2022 budget, calling for prioritization of health, education and agriculture.
Presenting oral evidence to the Public Accounts Committee during a national budget consultation for the 2022 National Budget, citizens said focus should be on construction of clinics, health centres, and resuscitation of the livestock sector.
Rural farmers bemoaned the lack of developmental support calling on government to ensure fair distribution of inputs with focus on direct disbursements to beneficiaries to avert losses.
“Government processes are not only delaying the disbursement of funds to farmers while some funds are losing value, as the local currency remains volatile and hyper inflationary.
“The rural farmer should be capacitate, value addition, mechanisation and setting of markets for communal and rural farmers are capacitated and given dignity,” said Langton Muhwahwa from Checheche, in Chipinge district.
Netsai Chitaku from Chipinge said rural women farmers have been sidelined in the marketing and sale of their produce because of centralisation of market places.
“Communities want rural agriculture hubs to empower rural communities in particular women and ensure that we do value addition for local produce. We are productive but we fail to get support from the government,” she said.
Andy Ziyera, a social justice activist, called for funding of key sectors like agriculture, education, health industry and technology, which ensure that the poor and vulnerable are protected.
“This revenue should come from mining royalties in areas of gold, chrome platinum and diamond royalties. The budget should be pro poor and responsive to the social needs of the people. Public health and education should be the most funded because public services have been privatised.
“Devolution should also be looked at because in the community that is where the real need for development is there,” said Ziyera.
Fungai Nhaitai, from Chiadzwa said parliament should, not only lead consultations, but develop a robust monitoring framework to track budget implementation and disbursement of funds on the ground.
He said communities should be given equity in sale and marketing of diamonds to leverage on their clean slate and gain better prices on the international market. Zimbabwe has been struggling to sell its diamonds due to restrictions imposed on government officials, and entities.
“Communities should be used to sell minerals because it will fetch better money on the market, and ensure that the revenue is ploughed back to the rightful communities
“Leverage on favorable international commodity prices to ensure revenue generation and protect from fluctuations,” he said.