Mthuli’s 2024 budget: brace for a long winter of suffering
2 December 2023
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By Tendai Biti| MTHULI Ncube’s 2024 budget statement presented on Thursday is a shocking parody of fascism, extraction, dishonesty, incompetence and downright narcissism.

The budget reflects a regime totally oblivious of the structural challenges facing the economy, the plight of the ordinary citizen and the myriad issues affecting business. It betrays lack of respect of economic fundamentals and as a result its prescriptions are a disastrous panalopy of cruel extractive illegal if not unconstitutional measures.

This a budget that reflects a regime with total contempt for its subjects.

The imposition of a massive array of taxes on a population mulcted by poverty and social challenges is reflective of this anti-citizen polity. The increase in toll gate charges, passport fees, duty on soft drinks, vehicle registration and fuel levy are narcissistic and unnecessary.

The proposed government takeover of third party insurance is clearly unconstitutional and zany. The massive removal of VAT zero rating on all goods except exports and medicines will hurt the poor and elderly as will the removal of duty suspension on basic goods.

The powers given to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority of temporarily shutting down businesses, seizing storage devices, raiding custody vaults at banks and security companies, seizure of goods and seizure of digital data without due process are fascist and unconstitutional.

These measures can’t stand legal scrutiny.

Here is the 2024 Budget Statement by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube: Budget Statement 2024 Final

The introduction of a 1 percent tax on people’s homes with a value above US$100,000 is another ill-thought measure that will hurt innocent homeowners and struggling working people. After all, capital gains, rates and stamp duties are already being paid by homeowners.

Structurally, the budget is technically unsound. Failure to express the budget in United States dollars, the currency in which most transactions are carried out in this country, makes it lose any decency or credibility.

Further, the budget grossly hides a huge budget deficit created in 2023 which will be reflected in a condonation bill that will come two years from now.

The budget fails to address the exchange rate mess thus guaranteeing continued existence of exchange rate arbitrage and hyperinflation. It fails to give relief to working people and punishes them through a vast array of punitive revenue measures. It will be a long winter of suffering.

Tendai Biti is Zimbabwe’s former finance minister