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PARTICIPANTS in public hearings on the 2022 national budget yesterday called on Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to prioritise social services and incentivise teachers.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance and the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are currently gathering public views on the 2022 national budget. The countrywide consultations will end on Friday.

The budget consultations in Harare were dominated by women and youths who demanded budgetary support for economic empowerment and employment creation.

They said between 16% and 20% of the 2022 national budget should go towards the education sector, with specific focus on remuneration for teachers.

The educators have spent the last two years demanding to be paid in United States dollars, or the equivalent in the local currency indexed to the bank rate.

“We want the budget to allocate 16% to 20% towards the education sector so that it can adequately cover for employment costs (teachers’ salaries) and also incentivise them,”

Charity Chaturika, a representative from the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe said.

Since 2020, teachers in the country have been demanding US$520 to US$550 salaries which they used to get before October 2018.

But government insists that  it is unable to pay in US dollars as this would distabilise the economy.

Chaturika said Ncube should prioritise service delivery and allocate adequate funding towards water and sanitation.

“The water and sanitation situation in the country is severely affecting women since we are the primary care-givers,” she said.

Women participants said Ncube’s 2022 budget should create an enabling environment for women to venture into self-help projects through a meaningful allocation to the Women Affairs ministry.

Almost every year, the Women Affairs ministry gets a 1% budgetary allocation which it says is barely enough to support women empowerment programmes.

Chitungwiza Residents Trust representative Alice Kuvheya said the budget should allocate enough funds for social protection programmes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth representative Appolonia Njengwe said:

“There is nothing being offered at banks to support the youths.  You (government) urge us to innovate, but whenever we go to Empower Bank, there is nothing for us. If employment is to be created, then there is need to increase the budget allocation to the Youth ministry.”

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