Zimbabwe never recorded a budget surplus in 2021, as previously claimed by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, CITE has established.
Civil servants have on several occasions pleaded with the government to use the ‘surplus’ that was mentioned several times by the finance minister, to fund their salaries in line with the country’s harsh economic climate.
These sentiments show how desperately citizens want this surplus to improve their lives, as claimed by the finance minister on several occasions when speaking about the success of his ‘deep’ economic reforms in relation to the enormous budget surplus.
But the country did not record a surplus in 2021, a revelation that was disclosed by the finance minister himself in Parliament on May 11, 2022 contrary to his earlier claims.
In June 3, 2021 while presenting the Treasury Quarterly Bulletin, Prof Ncube claimed Zimbabwe had recorded a whopping ZWL$9.8 billion budget surplus during the first three months of that year.
He cited how the government’s continued fiscal consolidation programmes were working in providing stability and restoring market confidence.
In September 2021, when Prof Ncube was on roadshow in New York to charm investors, virtually told delegates attending a business conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo that Zimbabweans should not criticise his budget surplus, claiming his austerity measures had saved the economy from an economic collapse induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the previous year 2020, Prof Ncube said if Zimbabwe did not have a surplus of US$100 million, it would not have managed to acquire the Covid-19 vaccines.
But in May in Parliament, the finance minister said there was no surplus recorded in 2021 after Kuwadzana East MP Charlton Hwende had asked him why he was not raising civil servants’ salaries when he always talked of a surplus.
“…Are you not pained by the paltry salaries that you pay to people when you have a surplus, the very people who work for you day in day out? People are struggling with the ZWL40 000 that you are giving them and they are unable to even buy a bottle of cooking oil. They are unable to even buy fuel for their cars, pay school fees for their children to go to school, is your heart not pained when you see such?”
In his response, Prof Ncube said there was no surplus.
“On the civil servants’ salaries, he (Hwende) said ‘Minister, you said that you have a surplus, why do you not use it to improve salaries’; actually, what I said was last year in 2021, there was no surplus,” said the finance minister.
“Actually, there was a deficit of ZWL$64 billion. So, there is no surplus in 2021. Surplus was the previous year which we then used to procure vaccines and the vaccine that he took, yakapinda kwaari yakabva kusurplus. So, we used it wisely, this surplus of the previous year.”