By Samantha Sibanda
Representatives of vulnerable groups are calling on the government to prioritize their needs as budget consultations gather momentum.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, and Economic Development and members of the expanded Sustainable Development Goals began the National Budget Consultations on Monday 12 October 2020 with the four teams (A to D) starting in Mvurwi, Harare, Bulawayo, and Chimanimani respectively. In compliance with the COVID19 regulations, only 100 people were allowed in the venues.
Team A morning session was held in Harare at the New Ambassador Hotel. The meeting chaired by the Shurugwi South MP Hon. Edmond Mkaratigwa. He explained prior to the submissions that it is the mandate of Parliament, in accordance with the constitution, to consult with citizens on the budget and that a parliament publication on the activities of parliament is now available online for citizens to view. Other Committee Members were included.
Various issues were raised with most people expressing concern over the deteriorating education and health sectors. They recommended that the budget should address the problems in these sectors.
Ms. Nokutenda Muzuva (26) expressed concern over the disability grant which currently stands at RTGS$300. She recommended that the grant should be increased as people with Albinism such as herself, for example, have to purchase sunscreen lotions which at the moment cost more than US$10 while some people with disabilities use diapers.
A representative from a sex workers association pleaded that sex workers be considered in the budget for grants in education and business initiatives. She also made an outcry on the shortage of contraceptives and condoms as they are at risk of contracting STIs.
The public hearings are also expected to be on the radio from 19:00 – 20:00hr as follows PowerFM (14 October) Khulumani FM (15 October) and Hevoi FM (15 October 2020) while physical meetings will be completed on Friday 16 October 2020.