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Cost of freedom

Ray Matikinye

THE cost of liberating ourselves from colonialism and settler domination is rising.

Figures released in the budget statemen

t last Thursday indicate government’s lack of prudence in awarding individuals honoraria for fighting a war to defeat settler colonialism.

Copies of the “blue book” that spells out the budgetary appropriations to each ministry became available on Monday.

Nine years after “Black Friday” in November 1997, when the dollar crashed, the Zimbabwean taxpayer is saddled with a heavy burden.

A look at Finance minister Herbert Murerwa’s budget statement reveals the folly of certain decisions government has made for populist political ends — decisions that debase the noble sacrifices every peasant, professional or student made to throw off the colonial yoke.

Quite how Zimbabwe has acquired the habit of aping others, without taking time to weigh the long-term advantages and disadvantages simply boggles the mind.

The decision seems to have been cloned from pensions whites received for fighting in World War II.

Under Constitutional and Statutory Appropriations, the cost of fighting for our liberation has risen from $334 323 360 to a whopping $7 111 624 000 for those that were detained or jailed on account of their political activism.

For the more intrepid that made it to Mgagao, Tembwe, Chimoio and such other camps, the cost of their courage has scaled fresh heights. From a princely $2 750 899 696 during the last financial year the projected cost next year is $83 297 288 000.

The figure is eight-fold the amount allocated for the Youth Development Fund under the Youth Development and Employment Creation ministry.

Murerwa admits: “Youth constitute 67% of our population with around 400 000 leaving school every year. The formal sector absorbs only 10% of the school-leavers resulting in a large number being unemployed.”

A whole ministry in charge of small and medium enterprises, to support development of SMEs as part of an economic development strategy, has a budget less than half the outlay for war veterans pensions at $41 024 367 000.

The combined payouts for independence war fighters, detainees and restrictees at $90 408 912 000, exceeds the appropriation for the Rural Housing and Social Amenities ministry 9,32 times.

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