By Leopold Munhende
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube has done a bad job in the economy since being appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa despite claiming the country has recorded a budget surplus for the first time in its history, an opposition MP has said.
MDC Senator Lillian Timveos Friday lashed out at Ncube during presentations at the ongoing pre-budget seminar in the resort town of Victoria Falls, accusing the Treasury chief of failing to deal with sticky issues including the two months old strike by junior doctors.
Timveos said Ncube’s elitist policies had left Zimbabweans worse off than they were before Mnangagwa took office.
“As a Minister, you cannot say you are handling this country’s finances well. You have done a very bad job.
“When we tell you something, we want you to listen to us because we come from the people and we represent people,” said Timveos.
The MDC official said the strike by junior doctors now entering its third month had turned the country’s public health system into a disaster and Ncube has failed to find a solution.
“I did not hear how you are going to manage the doctors that are still striking today. What have you done two months down the line? You have not sat down with doctors to make sure you give them a salary that is decent,” he said.
Doctors have been on industrial action for the past two months, demanding a review of their salaries and allowances pegged at the current interbank rates.
Government argues such an adjustment is unsustainable..
Ncube has however resisted the move and told NewZimbabwe.com last Friday, government cannot afford to pay them that much and said they should be content with the cushioning allowances they have been getting from him.
“We are working on another adjustment as we speak, then a bonus in November, surely we are trying our best,” said the Finance Minister.
Timveos also questioned Ncube on why his Ministry was silent on various corruption cases that have crippled the country.
“How come there is no statutory instrument which makes them (corrupt individuals) return that money.
“People actually have helicopters in this country, how come they are not held to account if you want to stop corruption in this country. How come you do not take at least 10 people and make an example of them,” the lawmaker said.
“You are now looking at the informal sector yet most of them sell goods which are not of value; such as onions and tomatoes. These are the people you are targeting. The same people you are taxing 2%.”
Ncube finds himself in a challenging spot close to a year and a half since his appointment, managing a hyper inflationary period, battling to monitor an unsteady interbank rate all the time while wearing a brave face and insisting the economy is on the mend.