The Regional Update: January 2018

Zimbabwe’s 2018 National Budget following departure of long-serving Mugabe
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon Patrick Chinamasa presented the 2018 National Budget on the 7th of December 2017 with the theme “Towards a new economic order”. This is the first budget for the country under President Emmerson Mnangagwa leadership. In the President’s inauguration speech, he suggested a paradigm shift in governance and the management of the country’s resources. The President highlighted that economic policy will be built on agriculture and creating an environment conducive for investment. The focus of the new government is on ensuring the recovery of the economy and creation of employment. The budget comes at a time when the economy is not performing well with challenges including an unsustainable budget deficit, low production and export levels, cash and foreign currency shortages, high levels of unemployment, low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and an unsustainable debt among others.
The budget thrust is:
• Correcting Fiscal Imbalances and Financial Sector Vulnerabilities.
• Creating a Conducive Investment Environment.
• Stimulating Production and Exports.
• Creation of Jobs.
• Re-engagement with the International Community.
• Public Enterprises and Local Authorities Reforms.
• Dealing with Corruption.

South Africa
South Africa has chosen Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new African National Congress leader for the next five years. Consequently, the rand extended its gains to more than 4% on 18 December 2017, reaching its highest level since March 2018 in anticipation of a Ramaphosa win. In his maiden speech, Ramaphosa vowed to expedite job creation and speed up land transfer to black people. He also said he aims to pursue a policy of “radical economic transformation” that will speed up expropriation of land without compensation, and stamp out corruption.

In a recent judgment, the Constitutional Court of South Africa handed a judgment that brought into sharp focus the role of parliaments in the protection and upholding of national constitutions. In the case of Economic Freedom Fighters and Others, Speaker of the National Assembly and Another, CCT 76/17, the Court ruled that the National Assembly had failed in holding President Jacob Zuma to account vis-à-vis a direction that had been given in terms of the Constitution by the Public Protector in relation to excess and improper expenditure of public funds towards security upgrades at his private residence in Nkandla.
The judgment points out the role of parliaments in holding the executive to account, and the duty of the executive to abide by the national charter. This is a positive judgment for the SADC region, as it sets the political tone on parliament-executive relations.

Mozambique
On Thursday 14 December, the Mozambican Parliament approved the Government plan and budget for 2018. The budget shows that the Government is not prioritising the promotion of some important social rights evidenced by allocations toa water supply, public works and social welfare. Education takes the largest share at 22.6 per cent, followed by roads (13.2 per cent), health (11.5 per cent), agriculture and rural development (5.7 per cent), water supply and public works (3.1 per cent), social welfare and labour (2.9 per cent), the judicial system (1.6 per cent), and mineral resources and energy (1.3 per cent).

Tanzania
Campaigners in Tanzania have angrily reacted to the stance of Tanzanian leaders which they have described as punishing young girl victims of sexual violence. This comes at a time when President John Magufuli pardoned two men who had served 13 years in prison for raping 10 primary schoolgirls between six and eight. In the same week, the regional commissioner of Mwanza, John Mongella, called for pregnant students to be arrested so they could testify against the men who had impregnated them. The call followed comments from President Magufuli earlier this year, when he rejected calls for the government to allow pregnant students to attend state schools hence promoting a culture of human rights violations in which young victims of sexual violence are being punished while perpetrators are going free.

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