1. RELEASE THE COVID–19 FUNDS AUDIT REPORT – The COVID-19 2020 Audit Report must be released according to section 309 of the constitution read together with Chapter 22:18 of the Audit Office Act. This is expected to shed light on COVID-19 social protection funds, economic stimulus funds, debt borrowings and other COVID-19 earmarked resource expenditures. Public scrutiny and debate over the Report will greatly enrich transparency and accountability in Public Finance Management.
2. STRENGTHEN PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT & SCRUTINY OVER COVID–19 RESOURCE SPENDING INCLUDING PROCUREMENTS – The parliament is a key oversight institution to address the unresolved challenges and gaps within the public procurement system which have paved way for corruption and mismanagement of COVID-19 resources. Examples of such cases include the Dr Obadiah Moyo’s Drax scandal case in 2020 where he corruptly awarded a US$60 million COVID-19 supplies contract and the Portia Manangazira’s procurement scandal and abuse of COVID-19 resources in 2021. Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of major public procurement process is therefore vital to safeguard against corruption in public procurement processes.
3. INCREASE DEBT TRANSPARENCY – Transparency is a central tenet of good fiscal governance and international borrowing practices however, the government has been borrowing with disregard to legislative provisions for openness and transparency. Government should do more to timeously disclose to the citizens loans and guarantees that place a fiscal obligation on Zimbabwe. In the first quarter of 2021, treasury entered into a 25–year debt agreement with the Arab Economic Bank for US$10 million to help finance the national response to COVID-19 without parliament’s approval. Parliamentary involvement in the acquisition and sustainable management of public debt is therefore crucial to restore public confidence in the country’s debt management capacity. As such, transparency in COVID-19 related debt contraction can be enhanced by Parliamentary debate and stakeholder consultation to refrain from unwarranted borrowing. Furthermore, there has to be improved publication of loans by government in the government gazette and timely publication of debt bulletins.
4. RE-ORGANISE ZIMBABWE’S SOCIAL PROTECTION MECHANISMS – The rampant abuse and mismanagement of public funds particularly the government’s safety nets to cushion the vulnerable during the pandemic remains a major concern. The government must therefore urgently institute an efficient, just and equitable social protection system to mitigate the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on poor and vulnerable groups including the informal sector which has become more vulnerable than ever. A universal basic income is highly recommended as a means to safeguard poor and vulnerable Zimbabweans from falling deeper into the poverty trap and a special COVID-19 relief support should be provided for the informal sector.
5. IMPROVE ACCESS TO INFORMATION TO INCREASE COVID–19 VACCINE UPTAKE – access to information is a key element of empowerment as it promotes civic participation hence without sufficient information on vaccinations, it will be difficult to achieve herd immunity as national statistics of vaccinated people indicate a low uptake of the national vaccination programme. The government must therefore channel resources towards a COVID-19 vaccination campaign aimed at challenging and factually disputing fake news which have dissuaded vaccine acceptance by the majority of citizens.
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