By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent
INDEPENDENT Norton Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa has rapped the government’s continued prioritisation of the military ahead of education research and development programmes in successive national budget allocations.
Speaking during a book launch at Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) last week, Mliswa said it was folly to give huge chunks of money to the army while neglecting higher and tertiary education as the military sector also relies on research and development to successfully wage and win wars.
“The biggest budget has to go to research and development (at universities), and never the military because whatever the military wants to do research is critical.
“There is no country which can go forward without research. I have always wondered honourable minister (Higher Education Amon Mrwira) why your budget is always low because research is ongoing, but wars come and go and not research,” said Mliswa.
The outspoken lawmaker boasted he donated 25 heifers and a bull to the history-making CUT animal husbandry unit to boost research efforts towards national herd restocking to enhance beef and milk production. The varsity is pioneering world class artificial cattle insemination programmes.
The heifer donation extended at the varsity’s inception early 2000s, was however fraught with controversy amid claims the politician looted the beasts from a dispossessed white commercial farmer in Karoi.
Mliswa’s remarks at the book launch come against a backdrop that in the 2023 national budget, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube allocated ZW$331,6 billion (7,3%) to the security sector, which includes defence, despite fact that Zimbabwe is experiencing peace.
The 2023 budget has total expenditure of ZW$ 4,5 trillion which was US$ 5,6 billion using the parallel market rate of US$ 1: ZWL 800 and US$ 6,9 billion using the official ruling exchange rate of US$ 1: ZWL 646 at the time.
In order to bolster a knowledge driven economy, Ncube allocated the education sector ZW$787,8 billion (US$1,2 billion) in this year’s national budget, an 18,5% increase with stakeholders saying the allocation still falls short of expectations.
In his vote for the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, Ncube set aside ZW$ 631,3 billion (US$976 million) to go towards providing quality infant, junior and secondary education.
Treasury said the bulk of the allocation would go towards payment of salaries for teachers and other learning costs.
Ncube also put ZW$156,5 billion (US$242 million) to Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development ministry to go towards the development of skilled and competent human capital.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to international declarations which recommend 20% allocation to education.
Meanwhile, CUT vice chancellor, Professor David Jambgwa Simbi last Thursday launched a book titled “Zimbabwe’s education systems design: An imperial bequeathment, a blessing or curse?”.
Mliswa was the first to buy a copy of the 500+ page volume for US$100 arguing it was worth it, although the cover price was pegged at US$20.