Mthuli escapes parliament grilling – NewsDay Zimbabwe

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/PRIDE MUZARABANI
UNDERFIRE Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube dodged the Senate on Thursday after being summoned to deliver a ministerial statement on the currency crisis, gold coins and the state of the economy.

Senate Deputy Speaker Mike Nyambuya summoned Ncube to parliament a fortnight ago to offer solutions to the economic haemorrhage, but he responded by saying he would only run after presenting his supplementary budget next week.

“The minister is currently presenting the mid-term budget review, which has already been presented to the Cabinet Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs,” reads a letter from the ministry.

“The presentation to Parliament takes place on July 28, 2022. Madam President, we therefore kindly ask you to accept if the Senate can allow the Minister to first present the mid-term budget review to Parliament and then to deal with matters raised by the Senate.

“The Minister fully appreciates the importance, the urgency and the need to address the issues raised by the Senate. Please accept, Madam President, the assurances of my highest consideration from the Minister’s office,” the ministry added.

Ncube was summoned to Parliament following concerns that a number of interventions by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the executive have failed to halt the economic collapse and runaway inflation now at 191.6%.

Prices of basic goods and services are galloping as the local currency continues its free fall amid calls for full dollarization.

The government is insisting on its de-dollarization strategy and has recently introduced gold coins to save local currency.

The central bank said gold coins would reduce demand for US dollars and stem rising inflation.

The gold coins will be available from Monday, according to the RBZ, and will be sold in local currency, US dollars and other foreign currencies at a price based on the prevailing international gold price.

Opposition parties yesterday blamed Ncube for avoiding the Senate, with MDC-T Harare Metropolitan Senator Elias Mudzuri accusing him of citing flimsy excuses.

“According to what he wrote, we are supposed to get a medium-term budget without understanding the meaning of certain terms around the same budget. I thought the minister was supposed to explain to us so that we can listen to him and understand what he is trying to do,” Mudzuri said.

“How can we have a medium-term budget when we don’t even understand what the fundamentals are? This will not make us an august chamber. I think the minister should come to this House even on Tuesday next week so that we understand the fundamentals or he can send another minister.

Acting Senate President Chief Fortune Charumbira, however, defended Ncube, saying the minister was “probably trying to avoid anticipating” his supplementary budget.

“We will have the opportunity to follow up on this mid-term budget presentation. We are likely to get any clarifications. For now, let’s give the benefit of the doubt that his intentions are good,” Charumbira said.

In a similar vein, research watchdog the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has also written to the Ministry of Finance demanding public consultations before announcing a supplementary budget.

“Decentralize places for public consultations, increase the time allocated per place and ensure accessibility to different social groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities,” the debt monitoring authority said in a letter dated 14 July.

Zimcodd urged the Ministry of Finance to timely release the fiscal strategy paper in a simplified and acceptable manner, if possible in the 16 constitutionally recognized languages.

He also p He also advocated with Ncube to improve transparency in budget spending.

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