By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
16 July, 2014
Several government departments, including the police and immigration, have told parliament that all the fees they collect in duties, spot fines and other operations will not be remitted to the treasury, because they have received only a tiny portion of the 2014 national budget allowances from government.
Speaking to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Tuesday, Home Affairs secretary Melusi Matshiya said the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Department of Immigration and the Registrar General were struggling to operate as they have received only 8% of their allocations, halfway through the fiscal year.
According to Newsday newspaper, Matshiya described the situation as “pathetic” and said it compromises these “high-security” departments which need adequate funding to operate.
Matshiya told the committee that Home Affairs was allocated $308 million in 2014. About $6 million was expected during the first quarter of the year, but just $1.5 million had been disbursed so far. He said the whole ministry and different departments have to fundraise to buy basics like vehicles and uniforms.
He also said that 700 police stations countrywide need about 7,000 vehicles. But they only have 1,800 of which only 1,000 are operational. The situation is so “dire” that policemen at times write statements on the back of used papers.
Economist John Robertson told SW Radio Africa that the situation Matshiya sold parliament is nothing new, as government has been failing to fulfill their budgetary requirements for years now.
Robertson said the previous Finance Minister Tendai Biti had authorised police to retain money collected as spot fines back in 2012 and 2013, acknowledging that he was unable to make money available to them from treasury at the rate required.
“This is only one ministry. There are others who collect fees for various services and they have not been remitting those either to the treasury. And that is part of the reason that treasury does not have the money they have been allocating,” Robertson explained.
He added that the loss of jobs due to so many company closures has also reduced the amount of income tax collected and VAT that would be due from the shops.
The Home Affairs secretary told legislators that money collected by these departments was properly accounted for, a claim disputed by the economist, who pointed to corruption and mismanagement scandals that have been reported at the police and the tax collecting agencies.