AS the national budget presentation fast approaches, Information minister Jonathan Moyo’s past call for President Robert Mugabe to be held accountable for the budgetary p
rocess has assumed renewed significance.
In his book, Politics of the National Purse: Public Budgeting as Public Policy in Zimbabwe, published in 1992, Moyo says Mugabe should stop ducking his responsibility and take charge of the budgetary process.
“Given that the public budgeting is the single most important annual policy statement of the government, it is imperative that the president should take full responsibility and present it to the people through parliament for discussion and debate before it can finally be voted on,” Moyo says.
“The failure to make the president directly and personally responsible for the budget means that his office will continue to be seen in public as purely ceremonious.”
Although the book was written 10 years ago, its observations remain relevant in so far as Mugabe’s leadership style and policy approach are concerned.
In the book Moyo says Mugabe had failed since he became president in January 1988 to assume “full and unambiguous responsibility” for the budget.
“The policies which dominate the daily lives of individuals are announced and made concrete on budget day,” he says.
“The tragedy is that the budget is made public by a government minister and not by the president. The responsibility of the president in the national budget should not be via delegation. The president should take direct and full responsibility of the budget, of course with advice from his Minister of Finance.”
Although Moyo wrote the book when he was still one of Mugabe’s most trenchant critics and before he became minister three years ago, his views remains relevant.
Mugabe still dodges responsibility on key policy issues.
Moyo says the success or failure of a president must be measured by “the kind of budget he presents to parliament and his ability to convince the nation through parliament that his budget is morally, politically and economically sound”.