Zambia’s budget formulation process elitist, exclusive – ZCSD

ZAMBIA still lags behind in citizen participation in the budget formulation processes as it follows an elitist and exclusive way of budgeting, says Zambia Council for Social Development board chairperson Mayamba Chiputa.

During a policy engagement with members of parliament concerning the project dubbed: “Beyond the numbers: making the money work for the people”, Chiputa said the participation of citizens in the budget formulation processes had been underscored as an important aspect in development.

“However, Zambia still lags behind as it follows an elitist and exclusive way of budgeting since citizens’ participation is limited to the few Lusaka based Civil Society Organisations,” he said in a speech read for him by board treasurer Edah Chimya.

The project is a joint initiative between Oxfam, NGOCC and ZCSD, and is being funded by the European Union.

He said the overall objective of the project was to promote greater accountability and better public service delivery through increased capacity and engagement of citizens and civil society organisations in the formulation, enactment, implementation and oversight of national budget.

The project would be implemented in 13 constituencies across the country.

He said in addition to that, the proposed action would impact on the curriculum development in civic education since it proposes a model that establishes Community Budget Groups (CBGS) with a solid base of literacy and knowledge by tapping into local academicians as well as the constituency offices.

Chiputa said the purpose of convening budget meetings with members of parliament was to interact on the budget and related post-budget bills and the newly enacted planning and budgeting Act.

He said there were low levels of uptake and ownership particularly at sub-national and local levels.

Chiputa said there was also lack of interest and skills among local communities to influence what they want to see in the national budget.

“Participation of key stakeholders through partnerships is minimal, thus, common Zambians are unable to engage in a structured manner,” he said.

Chiputa said research had revealed that planned allocations do not usually translate in actual disbursement and expenditure.

He said the disparities were due to weak oversight and the inability of sub-national structures to fulfil the needs of their constituencies.

Chiputa said the participation and involvement of citizens, especially, women and youths in national development including national planning and budgeting “cannot be over emphasised as it promotes gender equity and equality without leaving anyone behind”.

ZCSD executive director Leah Mitaba stressed the need for citizen participation in the budget formulation processes.

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