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Parly urged to open debates to public

Albert Makochekanwa

PARLIAMENTARY debates should be opened to the public and civil society organisations (CSOs) to assist the legislature in formulating better policies, an economist has said.

Speaking during a workshop on public finance management facilitated by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust in Mutare over the weekend, economist Albert Makochekanwa called for availability of free legislative information.

He said CSOs in Zimbabwe had been playing a key role in the budget formulation process in the country, adding that their contribution was necessary.

“The CSOs provide independent research from a perspective that is not covered by conventional analyses,” he said.

Makochekanwa said the CSOs’ input to the legislature was evident when Parliamentary committee debates are open to the public; legislative information is freely available; and when committees conduct hearings and receive submissions on legislation and budget during the consideration process.

“Civil society can make a significant contribution to the development and maintenance of good budget systems by simplifying budgets (for the communities they work with) and deepening the debate around budget policies and decisions,” he said.

“Collating and disseminating budget information in user-friendly formats; and providing independent critical analysis.”

Makochekanwa added that CSOs brought new information to the budget debate. His sentiments, however, come as government is pushing for the enactment of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill that the CSOs have described as an instrument to stifle their activities.

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