The Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) has expressed its satisfaction with the increased collaboration between stakeholders and the government in the formulation of the national budget. This positive development has been observed as the Ministry of Finance and National Planning begins its preparations for the 2024 National Budget.
Minister of Finance, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, recently called on the public to actively participate in shaping the 2024 National Budget and the 2024 to 2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). This appeal reflects the government’s commitment to involving citizens in the budgeting process.
Leah Mitaba, the Executive Director of ZCSD, emphasized the importance of realizing the provisions outlined in the National Planning and Budgeting Act Number 1 of 2020. She commended the emerging collaboration among stakeholders, particularly in the project implementation districts, where stakeholders are beginning to appreciate the project’s objectives.
Mitaba highlighted the ongoing efforts of the Community Budget Groups (CBGs) in engaging grassroots communities to discuss priorities that should be addressed by the national budget. The aim is to foster demand-driven development based on the needs expressed by local communities in the project areas.
ZCSD, in partnership with Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (Non GOCC) and OXFAM SAF, has been implementing the “Beyond the Numbers (BTN) – Making the National Budget Work for the People” Project in five districts of Zambia, namely Lusaka, Monze, Mufulira, Mpika, and Rufunsa. The project’s overall objective is to promote accountability and improve public service delivery by increasing citizens’ and civil society’s capacity and engagement in the formulation, enactment, implementation, and oversight of the national budget.
Over the past few weeks, ZCSD has conducted activities in Monze, Mufulira, Mpika, and Rufunsa, bringing together representatives from key sectors such as Agriculture, Education, and Health. Participants have included representatives of royal highnesses, Ward Development Committee leaders, local authority leaders, the Constituency Development Fund Committee, and leaders from Civil Society Organizations. These stakeholders have engaged in discussions to identify priorities for the 2024 National Budget.
Mitaba called for continued active involvement in the national budgeting processes from individuals, institutions, and community groups like the CBGs. She expressed confidence that the sectors involved would integrate the outcomes of these discussions into their respective recommendations for the 2024 national budget in the coming months. Furthermore, ZCSD urged communities to exercise their fundamental right to participate in the budget formulation process, emphasizing that the national budget should benefit every citizen.
ZCSD believes that the growing collaboration between state and non-state actors in the pilot districts, as facilitated through the BTN project, has the potential to reduce existing development inequalities. By prioritizing the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives, Zambia can work towards achieving a more equitable and effective national budget that addresses the needs of all its citizens.