By Anna Chibamu
MDC MP for Mbizo Settlement Chikwinya on Wednesday chided government for using millions in scarce funds to acquire new police weaponry and ammunition in anticipation of civil unrest in the country.
Chikwinya said during parliament’s ministers’ question time that government was failing to adequately remunerate its workforce but was directing priorities towards acquiring ammunition.
“Where is government getting money to buy firearms and security forces uniform when the country is struggling to raise foreign currency to basics such as fuel or even paying its workers?” Chikwinya said while directing his question to Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, in his capacity as leader of government in the house.
However, Ziyambi said the funds were part of those already budgeted for during Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s 2019 budget presented late last year.
He said the budget was even approved by sitting MPs adding that it was a surprise Chikwinya was puzzled by the expenditure.
“It is very strange that the Honourable is asking this question Mr Speaker yet he approved the budget presented by Finance Minister in this House.
“He approved the expenditure and ministries including the Defence Ministry are just using funds that were approved by Parliament,” Ziyambi responded.
Opposition MPs in the past have queried government’s priorities in the allocation of funds to different sectors of government.
Recent reports have linked the country’s security forces to the acquisition of new equipment and weapons, including water cannons, teargas canisters and guns.
Among the firearms purchased are Mossberg 500 and 590 models shotguns usually used in riot situations.
Police officers are also said to be undergoing training on using new weaponry which has been acquired, including Mossberg shot guns.
The under-fire Emmerson Mnangagwa government has reportedly put the country’s security forces on high elert amid a fast deteriorating economic situation feared could spark fresh anti-government protests.