2021 National Budget Review: Prospects for Social Development, Gender Equality and Disability Inclusion Constrained

Introduction and Background

A national budget is a plan prepared by the government presenting its anticipated revenues and proposed spending/ expenditure for the coming financial year. Ideally, the national budget should guarantee the realisation of the varying needs and aspirations of citizens, particularly the poor and vulnerable, including women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly. 

The 2021 national budget was presented before the House of Assembly by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on the 26th of November 2020, and this will be followed by the approval by parliament paving way for its implementation, starting January 2021.

Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe (ICOD Zimbabwe) through its community structures, took part in the 2021 pre-budget consultations spearheaded by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budgets. The involvement of citizens in the national budget process is derived from section 141 of the constitution which mandates the Parliament of Zimbabwe to a) facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes and in the processes of its committees; b) ensure that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament, unless such consultation is inappropriate or impracticable. Meaningful involvement and effective participation of women in the national budget processes ideally guarantees the advancement, realisation and enjoyment of their social, economic, political, environmental, and cultural rights. Section 13 (2) of the constitution provides for the involvement of citizens in the formulation and implementation of development programmes and projects that affect them.

The 2021 National Budget come at a time when the country is battling under siege from COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in further macroeconomic deterioration across the economic divide. According to the World Bank, emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, countries have started registering economic recession and Zimbabwe has not been spared. Thus, the 2021 National Budget is expected to lead the country in COVID-19 recovery path by reflecting reforms and mechanisms to redress the challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic. Further to that, a pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable national budget framework is one that prioritizes people and their basic needs as well as ring-fencing expenditures thereto. It must boost public spending on health, education and social development portfolio without undermining fiscal sustainability.

Importantly, a people’s budget must be strongly aligned with constitutional imperatives such that the bulk of resources are dedicated towards the realization of constitutionally mandated people’s rights. It is through the national budget that the government is able to adhere and fulfil its commitments. In the case of Zimbabwe, the national budget must demonstrate the commitment by government to realise the sectoral targets which includes:

Social protectionSocial Policy for Africa (2008)4.5% GDP
HealthAbuja Declaration (2001)15% government expenditure
EducationEducation for All Initiative (2000)20% government expenditure
Table 1: Expenditure targets the government has committed to implement.

In recognition of the critical role that the national budget plays in the socio-economic development of women; and women with disabilities, the ICOD Zimbabwe conducted consultations on the key policy aspirations and asks to input into 2021 national budget with the view to add women’s voices within the budget. ICOD Zimbabwe extends gratitude to its membership (women and women with disabilities) who dedicated their time towards the consultative process and whose contributions have been considered in the development of the 2021 National Budget. The community adds significant value to the service delivery by the government through the national budget especially if they meaningfully participate in the budget consultative process and the entire budget cycle. ICOD Zimbabwe represents more than 3000 women and women with disabilities and is present in Masvingo and Midlands provinces of Zimbabwe. This 2021 National Budget review was necessitated by the inputs that ICOD Zimbabwe and its membership contributed in the consultation processes to determine the extent to which various asks have been explored by the treasury or not.

The participation of women and women with disabilities in the 2021 National Budget was informed by findings from the analysis conducted by ICOD Zimbabwe in August 2020 which revealed limited participation of women and girls with disabilities in the budgetary processes of Zimbabwe. Thus, the agenda was to influence the 2021 national budget, which is a key instrument to ensure the progressive realization of the social, environmental, economic and political rights of women with disabilities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals Leave No One Behind Agenda.

ICOD Zimbabwe has conducted pre-budget sensitization and consultations meetings in Chivi and Chiredzi aimed at equipping women and girls with disabilities with key budgetary information and knowledge ahead of the consultations held in these areas by the committee. In a bid to expand findings from pre-budget sensitization and consultations, ICOD Zimbabwe convened another meeting with Disabled Persons Organizations across the country and developed the Disability Ten Point Plan which was presented to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budgets.

This review seeks to unpack the 2021 national budget and its implications for women and women with disabilities as well as an evaluation of the extent to which the key asks dovetailed in the Disability Priority Paper have been incorporated and considered.  Apart from a mere look of budget figures in line with the contextual analysis of the prevailing macroeconomic environment, this post-budget review gave an evaluation of progress made to-date in the commitment by government to address the social and economic needs of citizens.

Read the full review here (317KB PDF)

Source: Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe Trust

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