HARARE - Chiefs have threatened to sink the 2014 national budget when it is presented before Parliament next week for approval.
The traditional leaders are livid that their budgetary allocation was drastically slashed from $10m to $1m.
Fortune Charumbira, president of the Chiefs Council, warned parliamentarians during a post-budget consultative meeting with the portfolio committee for Local Government on Wednesday that his members would not support the budget if no changes were made to their allocation by next week.
Charumbira said the slash in their budgetary allocation came at a time the new constitution provides for a standalone budgetary allocation for traditional leaders.
He said with the $10 million allocated last year, the Chiefs’ Council failed to fund its activities, including holding the Council Assembly owing to shortage of funds.
“We need to see changes to that budget before next week, otherwise we cannot support it as it is,” Chief Charumbira said.
“It is an unconstitutional budget because the new constitution provides for a standalone budget for the Council of Chiefs.”
Joseph Mhakayakora, the Local Government ministry acting permanent secretary, tried in vain to explain that the reduction was taken care of elsewhere in the budget.
“Maybe you did not quite get me because I was using English,” Mhakayakora said.
“There has not been any reduction in the current year. It’s only a separation in the allocations and that is taken care of elsewhere in the budget if you check,” Mhakayakora explained in the vernacular.
However, Charumbira would have none of it.
“I fail to understand why you are resisting seeing what is very clear,” Charumbira said.
“The constitution provides for a standalone budgetary vote for chiefs and it is not there in the blue book.
“You do not need to be defending yourself here but to discuss so we can make you see things properly.
“There is no need to even explain in the vernacular because I am more educated than most of you and have more degrees. What I am telling you is what is in the constitution so we need to see changes.”