MDC may challenge passage of debt assumption bill

Harare – Zimbabwe’s main opposition party will likely appeal to the Constitutional Court against a bill passed in parliament on Tuesday that could see the government assuming a staggering $1.3b debt from the central bank, an MDC official said.

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RBZ

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Eddie Cross of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe debt assumption bill is “wrong”.

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Some of the Zanu-PF MPs who voted in favour of the bill actually contributed to the debt, the opposition said.

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The debt was racked up during Zimbabwe’s inflation-riddled crisis years up to and including 2008, when Mugabe’s government dished out farming implements to the well-connected and seized money from foreign currency accounts

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Cross told News24: “We’re now shifting responsibility of paying back these monies from the individuals who benefited, to the exchequer, to the tax payer.

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“We argued that in principle, the bill is wrong; that they should be seeking to recover the funds from the beneficiaries.

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“The [MDC] will take the matter I’m sure to the Constitutional Court, and argue that the bill has been passed in an unprocedural manner,” he added.

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MDC officials have said the RBZ behaved “like Father Christmas” and even loaned money to First Lady Grace Mugabe to kickstart her dairy in Mazowe, central Zimbabwe. But Zanu-PF MPs claim Tsvangirai too benefited when he was prime minister because a house was bought for him using RBZ funds – although that was after 2008.

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The bill was passed on Tuesday by the lower house with a vote of 115 to 37. It will now have to go before the senate, which is also dominated by Zanu-PF.

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Cross said the money had been borrowed not only to finance day-to-day government expenditure, but also “a wide range of activities that were not directly linked to support for government activity, for example the purchase of $200m’s worth of farm machinery.”

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“There is no evidence before us that any attempt has been made to recover the funds from the beneficiaries, all of whom are members of Zanu-PF,” the MP added.

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Some Zimbabweans on social media were not impressed either.

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Journalist Nqaba Matshazi tweeted: “Parliament has just voted in favour of RBZ debt assumption bill, this means some people can borrow and not pay back and taxpayers foot bill.”

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Former editor of the state-controlled Sunday Mail Brezhnev Malaba wrote: “This culture of freebies is problematic. People get tractors, combine harvesters, trucks [from] the RBZ & now the taxpayer must pay?”