Budget slashes millions from commissions

HARARE - Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s 2018 budget dramatically reshapes Constitutional commissions, requiring millions in cuts to mandatory programs to set them on a path for a major overhaul.

The $5,1 billion budget rolls back financial allocations, paring back fiscal overheads programs and getting rid of some of the commissions’ top priorities.

The five “independent constitutional commissions” created under Chater 12 of the new charter are Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Zimbabwe Media Commission and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

Chinamasa said while the five independent Constitutional commissions were provided for in the Constitution for intentions of good governance, they impose heavy fiscal over-heads which the country cannot bear.

“Currently, the majority of Commissions are set up on an executive basis, and hence, imposing an annual wage bill of around $11,6 million, inclusive of $3,8 million for Commissioners,” Chinamasa said.

“In this regard, government will, with effect from 2018, be reviewing this provision to allow for only the chairperson to be engaged on a permanent basis, leaving the rest of the commissioners being part-time, and remunerated with modest allowances, that way devolving responsibility for day-to-day operations to secretariat staff.

“This should be complemented by rationalisation and restructuring of organisational structures, with a view of containing costs.”

He said in line with the need to reduce costs, government will also be reviewing its position on providing all commissioners with service vehicles.

Chinamasa said commissioners used to get one car each but that will be reduced to one vehicle only for those who are full time and as deemed necessary.

“Currently, commissions are also required to provide condition of service vehicles, to commissioners, which the National Budget has been struggling to finance. Condition of service vehicle requests for commissioners alone would require an amount of close to $10 million, which the 2018 Budget has no capacity to provide for,” he said.

Government has often been accused of not being serious when it comes to independent Commissions as they are all grossly underfunded.