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Paltry funding cripples commissions

GOVERNMENT has failed to provide adequate funding to independent commissions whose mandates include fighting corruption, human rights abuses, enabling the holding of free and fair elections and promotion of a land audit.

Wongai Zhangazha

According to government’s estimates of expenditure contained in the “blue book”, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa failed to provide independent budgets for constitutional commissions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Zimbabwe Gender Commission and Land Commission, among others, in his 2015 national budget of US$4,1 billion.

Instead, the commissions were accommodated in allocations to their parent ministries, leaving them grossly underfunded — a development that raises concerns about government’s commitment to fight corruption and human rights abuses.

The ZHRC, set up in 2009 under the inclusive government to investigate human rights abuses, faces problems of lack of proper offices, vehicles, staff and financial support from government.
Despite these challenges, it received a paltry US$1,4 million from the 2015 budget.

ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi said the money allocated to the commission was insufficient and would affect several projects lined up for 2015.

Said Mugwadi: “We requested US$7,5m to cover all operations of the commission, carry out investigations, decentralise to all the provinces, salaries and recruitment exercises. At the moment, we are only working with 82% of staff complement.

“The money that was allocated to the commission will not last a year. We are actually going to close soon and can only hope for a supplementary budget. The lack of funding will be a huge constraint to the work we are doing.”

He said the commission was relying on donor funding which, however, contributes only 30% to their budget.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, faced with a number of problems that include fulfilling recommendations by Sadc to improve conditions for elections, was allocated US$8,4m.

Sadc proposed reforms including improved voter education and registration, inspection of the voters’ roll, changes to the Public Order and Security Act, media and security sector reforms.

Zacc, which has been lamenting how underfunding has affected its capacity to fight corruption, was allocated US$1,6m.

Following the expiry of the term of office for commissioners of Zacc, government is yet to appoint a new team. Calls for new nominations were made with a deadline of August 30, but to date no appointments have been made.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which has not commenced operations under the leadership of Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, was allocated only US$80 000.

Despite remarks by Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora that a land audit would be carried out next year at a cost of about US$35m, the Land Commission, which will be tasked to investigate a number of land issues, was allocated US$110 000. No funds were allocated for the land audit as the ministry was given just US$13,6m.

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission that is still to be set up received US$100 000.

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