Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion that was killed in Hwange National Park in July by American dentist Walter Palmer has raised nearly $1.2 million for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, but nothing for the park where it was killed.
Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority was not allocated any money for its operations in the 2016 financial year according to the budget just released.
It was only allocated $1.5 million for the upgrading of Chamabondo facility, according Rushinga legislator Wonder Mashange who chairs the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
Mashange said lack of funds was going to compromise the programme of reducing poaching activity.
The Ministry of Environment is, however, one of the few ministries that was allocated a capital budget that was greater than the employment costs.
It was allocated $34.2 million and $29.6 million is for capital expenditure.
HON. MASHANGE: I am presenting a report on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the Ministries of Water, Environment and Climate and Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
The Ministry is most strategic in modern times where people are concerned with climate change, adaptability and climate variability. The success of agriculture and agro-industries hinges on how a country adapts to climate change. Climate change and variability is a real phenomenon that must not be ignored in National Budget if a country wants to ensure sustainable development. Zimbabwe is experiencing climate variability evidenced by recurrent droughts and high temperatures. This has affected food security and provision of clean water and hydro-electric power which is affecting mining, industry and commerce sectors. The achievement of sustainable development depends on how a country devises effective measures to mitigate the challenges of climate change. The key result areas of the Ministry are integrated water resources planning, environment and water resources management, climate change management and provision of weather and climate information. In executing its statutory mandate, the Ministry is supported by the following parastatals: Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Forestry Commission, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority and Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
The major achievements in 2015
During the fiscal year 2015, the Ministry achieved the following;
- completion of Mtshabezi and Wenimbi pipelines;
- completion of ZIMFUND water and sewage projects for Mutare and Masvingo;
- drilling and rehabilitation of boreholes in communal areas;
- upgrading of Beitbridge water supply;
- successfully hosted the water resources infrastructure conference;
- successfully hosted the climate change development in Africa conference;
- coordinated national cloud seeding programmes;
- successfully monitored 346 sites on water pollution and avoided the siltation of major rivers such as Mazowe;
- managed to close contaminated boreholes and identified the major polluters in Hwange; and
- launched the National Climate Change Response Strategy.
The Ministry also faced the following major challenges:
- Low level of environmental awareness among stakeholders and communities resulting in slow attitude change and lack of environmental stewardship;
- resource constraints: financial, human and material which have resulted in failure to curb poaching, veld fire, siltation among others;
- lack of funding to establish provincial offices for the Meteorological services department; and
- lack of funding for wildlife anti-poaching and conservation.
2016 policy priorities for 2016-2018
The priorities include the following;
- conduct awareness and outreach programmes on reducing pollution, poaching, deforestation and veldt fires;
- review and crafting of various policies and legislation;
- coordinating the cloud seeding programmes to enhance precipitation;
- participate in regional and international conferences;
- conclusion of the national climate policy and implementation of climate change response strategies;
- planning and development of critical dam projects;
- implementation of rural and urban water supply projects; and
- monitoring de-siltation of the seven water courses in the country.
2016 Budget Analysis
For the 2016 fiscal year, the Ministry received a budget allocation of $34,242,000 which is far short of the Ministry’s priority requirements of $54, 241,300. This means only 63.13% of the target budget was allocated and the implication is that several priority objectives will not be achieved. More funds are allocated to capital expenditures ($29,618,000) than current expenditures. This shows that the budget is developmental in nature and we expect water infrastructure development in 2016. The amount was allocated to three operational departments of the Ministry as discussed below.
4.1 2016 Budget resources vs Priority Areas
Vote analysis for sub-vote I: Administration and General
This department was allocated $3,348,000 which represent a decrease of 64.3% from 2015. The operational budget (current expenditures less employment costs) decreased by 4% from $329,000 to $317,000 in 2016.
Most of the expenditures decreased except for marginal increase in goods and services. The amount allocated to operations is far less than the actual disbursement as at end of September 2015. This gross underfunding will compromise the achievement of the priority areas such as conference participation where experts share ideas about climate change. The current transfers to Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Forestry Commission and subscriptions to various organisations were reduced by 93.9%, 72.4% and 50% respectively. This reduced funding will affect salaries for EMA officers which can undermine efforts for environmental policing as workers will be demotivated. This problem is going to be exacerbated by further reduction in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) fees from 1.5% to ranges between 0.8 – 1.2%. The reduced cash flows is expected to affect most programmes of EMA that include awareness, monitoring and ecosystem rehabilitation activities like gully filling. This scenario is further compounded by non-remittance of carbon tax to EMA.
The reduced allocation to Forestry Commission is going to negatively affect its operational budget since all the funds allocated are inadequate to pay salaries. The allocation to Forestry Commission represents 12% of the annual wage bill. The commission does not have viable revenue generation projects, except the shareholding benefits from the Allied Timber which is a State enterprise. This gross underfunding implies that the Commission has to drastically cut its operations on core activities such as anti-poaching, fireguard, forest education among others. Alternatively, the only way to effectively utilise the resources is to reduce the wage bill. However, such measures cannot be done instantly but over a long period of time. At the moment, additional funds will be required to avoid negative effects to the gazetted forests. Although the Commission might have the capacity to generate revenue, it is constrained by undercapitalisation. In 2016, the Commission was allocated $43,000 capital expenditure against a target of $3,963,200. The implication is that the commission will remain undercapitalised. Thus, it has limited revenue generation capacity as there are limits to the extent of commercialising its activities. The Commission is yet to receive dividends from Allied Timber as dividends depends on the level of profits.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority was not allocated any current expenditures except capital transfer of $1,500, 000 for upgrading Chamabondo facility. There was no allocation for operations despite increases in poaching activities. This is going to compromise the 2016 priority of reducing poaching activity. The authority has partnered with private investors in management resources.
Vote analysis for sub-vote II: Meteorological Services
The allocation of the department decreased by 20.4% from $2,926,000 to $2,330,000 in 2016. One of the major mandate of the department is to carry out cloud seeding.
The allocations in most expenditure categories decreased except for programmes. The Ministry received $500,000 as the priority programme funding for cloud seeding. The amount allocated is sufficient for the programme and this is greatly appreciable although other priorities are unfunded thereby reducing the Ministry’s priorities for 2016.
Vote analysis for sub-vote III: water resource management and development
The allocation to the department decreased by 29.4% from $40,439,000 to $28,564,000 in 2016. The department oversees the provision of clean water in both rural and urban areas. Its mandate includes water infrastructure development.
The operational budget decreased by 80% in 2016 which could be explained by reduced allocations for maintenance and goods and services. More capital expenditure was allocated for this department to cater for water infrastructure development. The resources are meant for both new and on-going water projects.
The amount allocated to capital transfer decreased by 28.8%. The implication is that some capital projects will not be completed. These projects include dams and water supply in local authorities. The capital transfer is distributed as follows;
For dams construction: Causeway dam – $4,000,000; Marovanyati dam – $8,000,000; dam safety – $500,000; outstanding certificates – $13,400,000. Causeway dam is a new dam meant for ensuring food security and constant supply of water to Marondera town. The amount for dam safety is meant for annual inspection as dam failure results in loss of life. Most dams in settled farms are structurally failing due to lack of inspection and maintenance. Gwai-Tshangani dam was not allocated any funds even though the dam has investment potential. These dams have been identified under ZIM ASSET as strategic dams. ZINWA is seeking potential investors to complete the project.
Water supply projects: Binga rural water supply – $500,000 and Victoria Falls water supply – $1,600,000. These allocations are not sufficient but will just make the project functional in the year 2016. The target amount for Victoria Falls for the project to be completed is $4,000,000. These projects have the potential to generate revenue, the insufficiency of funds have forced ZINWA to leverage the resources and sought partners in the private sectors. This is indeed appreciated as it is a relief on Government. Urban water projects have the capacity to recoup the invested funds as it can be commercialised and the use of prepaid water meters will guarantee revenue collection.
The Committee observed the following in the 2016 Budget;
- The Budget prioritised capital expenditure as opposed to current expenditure in the 2016. Thus, it is developmental in nature even though the funds are inadequate;
- Most of the capital expenditure was prioritised on water infrastructure developments; new dams and water supply facilities were funded;
- Reduced operation budget for most operational departments and parastatals;
- Budget prioritised key projects and programmes; cloud seeding, water and sanitation;
- Non-remittance of carbon tax to EMA in terms of the requirement of the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 20:27.
- Continued financing of climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes. The allocation to cloud seeding of $500,000 was noted;
- Emphasis on parastatals to depend on statutory revenue in 2016, however some parastatals like the Forestry Commission have limited capacity to generate revenue;
- Emphasis on parastatals to generate their own revenue, however such funds are inadequate to finance their operations and most of the revenue is erratic;
- There is no provision for some work-in-progress in dam construction, while new projects have been allocated some funds. No funds allocated to Gwayi-Tshangani and Semwa dams which were projects-in-progress in 2015. These dams are strategic as noted in the ZIM-ASSET economic blue print; and
- There is late disbursement of funds resulting in the Ministry accumulating arrears.
Conclusion and recommendations
The Committee strongly recommends the following;
The Committee recommends that:
- The Government should continue to finance urban water supply facilities as there is high potential for sustained revenue.
- ZINWA to continue seeking private investors for dams with investment potentials. Private Public Partnerships (PPP) must be promoted.
The Committee recommends that:
- Weather services be decentralised in all provinces for accurate and timely reporting of weather information. In this regard, funds should be allocated for maintenance of houses in provincial weather stations.
The Committee recommends that:
- The Commission should be allocated more resources as it has limited scope to generate revenue.
- The Commission is encouraged to cooperate with donor organisations that support forestry activities such as FAO, UNDP and other development partners. The joint funding will eventually reduce operational costs.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
The Committee recommends that;
- the capital expenditure of the authority be prioritised as old vehicles are affecting their anti-poaching activities;
Environmental Management Agency (EMA)
The Committee recommends that.
- Carbon tax remittances must be immediately channelled to the agency in order to improve its cash flows in view of the reduction on EIA fees. The Government must implement this statutory requirement.
- Treasury should timeously release funds to the Ministry in order to avoid arrears accumulation.
In conclusion, the Budget allocations decreased for most expenditure categories. This has affected operational budget thereby threatening the achievement of priority objectives. The gross underfunding entail measures to reduce costs, however, one of the cost reduction measures is retrenchment which is costly. Therefore, the Government must allocate more funds for operations. The Committee resolved to ask for additional funding for operational budget.