The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) leader Obert Masaraure has lambasted the government’s austerity measures for prosperity, saying it is meant to benefit the few connected elites.

Speaking at a policy dialogue held in Harare today under the theme service delivery and austerity measures: implications for citizens, Masaraure said the policy is a way to help the looters get more.

“Austerity measures is a neo-liberal agenda to keep the rich richer and poor even more poorer. It is an agenda for bankers to loot.

“Money becomes the agenda without production.

“Austerity for prosperity simply means those who control flow of money in Zimbabwe are determined to keep the citizens poorer,” he said.

Meanwhile, some analysts believe Zimbabwe which depends heavily on indirect taxes, has a repressive tax system, where the poor contribute more to tax than the rich, and us such, austerity measures are bent on causing more harm to the citizens than good.

According to Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development considering the fact that austerity measures were introduced against the background of the deep rooted and depleted social services woes, the outcome has always been set to be undesirable as the government cuts national spending mainly on social security, in a move to address the falling Gross Domestic Product.

Speaking to this publication on the side lines of the policy dialogue, political analyst Elder Mabhunu said the effects of austerity measures include the widening of the high income inequality in the country.

He agreed that the austerity measures have worsened social services distress in the country, after the government had cut social spending by 62%, from $213.4 million in 2018 to $81.2 million in 2019.

“To make matters worse, in the 2019 National Budget, the government prioritised the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans having allocated US$546.9 million which shows a 30% increase from the 2018 budget. While, the Ministry of Home Affairs budget was increased by 19% from the US$435.5 million in 2018 to US$517.8 in 2019,” he said.

While many were at odds trying to grasp the need to hugely investment in the defence arms, as if at war, it has now become clear that the country has been transformed into a military state characterised by military torture and killing of civilians by the police and army.

Most recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs acquired anti-riot gear for the country’s police force as the government prepares for public disobedience due to the failing economy. This also comes at the time the country’s main opposition party and pressure groups are calling for protests, so as to push for dialogue to end the economic woes currently prevailing in Zimbabwe.