The government has said it has banned civil servants from giving themselves Christmas hampers and vouchers to cut unnecessary spending and ensure that State funds are allocated where they are needed.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development George Guvamatanga on Monday told a post-Budget seminar in Harare that the government was trying to curb profligacy. He said:
There was a practice that those of us working at (ministry) headquarters would give ourselves Christmas hampers and vouchers.
As part of the public expenditure reforms, we have this year said no to hampers and vouchers.
These are far-reaching reforms we have adopted to ensure that resources are allocated where they are needed without questions.
We are also tightening our expenditure on Government travel, especially on the criteria where people can travel.
Guvamatanga cited an example of officials from an agency under his ministry who wanted to travel to Belgium and spend days in Europe for a two-hour meeting that could be attended via Zoom. He said:
They wanted to travel business class on Emirates and go to Belgium three days before the meeting and return three days after.
They wanted to collect allowances for the hotel costs and others for attending the meeting.
So you will realise that this is not only about Government contractors and suppliers but is a cross-cutting measure.
However, the move by the Treasury to deny civil servants Christmas hampers may be viewed as hypocritical after the government extended a US$40 000 loan facility to all Members of Parliament (MPs) across the political divide and US$500 000 and US$350 000 for ministers and their deputies respectively.
The loan facility has been described by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) president, Nelson Chamisa, as an attempt by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to bribe legislators to avoid losing in the 2023 elections.