THE dire state of government finances has now come into perspective with Cabinet ministers warning of crisis situations in key security services such as the military and the police as Treasury swung the axe, massively reducing their budget requests for 2023.
Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube famously claimed that “zvakarongeka (our finances are in order)” during an interview, and the treasury boss and his team often flaunt their prudent management of public finances, regularly pointing to claiming budget surpluses.
However, ongoing Parliamentary consultations for the 2023 national budget held in Harare at the weekend, heard otherwise from no less than Professor Ncube’s cabinet colleagues.
Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Home Affairs colleague Kazembe Kazembe lamented the dire state of affairs in the security services.
Muchinguri-Kashiri said the poor budgetary support for the ministry had resulted in soldiers being the subject of public ridicule and insults.
“Soldiers do not have adequate accommodation; they need to be in barracks,” said the defence minister. “They are given all sorts of names, they use public transport, they are insulted on a daily basis and whilst on duty, they sometimes go without food.
“On the food items they are supposed to be getting 53 items but this has been reduced to five items only. Soldiers were going for Sadza and beans without cooking oil daily.”
Home affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said the situation was equally bad for the country’s police service. “The police force situation is very desperate,” he warned.
“You should actually be thanking the police that we still have sanity and tranquillity in our country because of the situation these men and women are going through.”
Zanu PF’s Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba warned the ministers to remember that their security was provide by these disgruntled officers, adding that the situation was a national security threat.