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Zimbabwe Lawmakers Block Gov't Attempts to Take Over PSMAS Debt

Zimbabwe Parliament.

Zimbabwe Parliament.

Zimbabwean parliamentarians on Thursday rejected proposals by the government to take over the Premier Service Medical Aid Society’s $144 million debt.

On July 16th, President Robert Mugabe gazetted Statutory Instrument 77 of 2015, which prohibits issuance of attachment orders on state property meaning firms that are owed by the medical aid society cannot attach its properties through the courts to recover their money.

So the president evoked his presidential powers to protect the properties from being attached by service providers owed over $144 million.

Discussing the statutory instrument Thursday, members of parliament were in agreement that allowing the government to take over the PSMAS debt was tantamount to promoting corruption.

Buhera South Member of Parliament, Joseph Chinotimba, said it was wrong for the country to take over the debt.

“Mr Speaker Sir, I and my Buhera South constituency do not agree that the country should inherit PSMAS debt. PSMAS should sell its properties to offset the debt,” the Zanu PF lawmaker said.

Fortune Chasi, another Zanu PF legislator representing Mazowe South, expressed the same sentiments.

“By the look of things we seem to be a government that wants to have corruption,” he said.

“This is not going through come thunder come storm. We will go on the streets as the civil service because enough is enough. These people should go to jail and face the music.”

MDC-T lawmaker Jessie Majome of Harare West legislator was also not happy at all about moves to take over the debt.

“These very few private enterprises are the remaining sources of employment that are there in our country and to allow to use the law to unlawfully protect Premier Medical Aid Society from paying out its debts to those private enterprises is to sign a death warrant for the private enterprises,” she said.

The house which in many cases debates issues along partisan lines showed rare unity with Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga of the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube noting that Members of Parliament were debating the issue in an objective manner.

“For some of us this is a historic day because both sides of the house are in agreement that the government should not take over this debt,” she said.

Harare resident, Amos Dziroto, praised the legislators for speaking against parceling the debt to the government.

“What the legislators did is commendable given that the President was used at bulldozing such laws in favour of those that have plundered our resources. Cuthbert Dube should be made to pay the money he looted from PSMAS,” said Dziroto.

Another resident, Samson Dzingai, urged government to ensure that those that contributed to the collapse of PSMAS are held accountable.

“It is an abuse of his powers to invoke his presidential powers so that people can take over the debt that was accrued through misuse, mis-governance and corruption. It is bad. No investigations were done and the corrupt guys are still walking scot-free. People are starving and we can't continue to bleed them,” Dzingai said.

The government has this year already taken over the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s debt after the RBZ Debt Assumption Act sailed through parliament despite fierce resistance from the members of the opposition.

The RBZ owed service providers $1.35 billion.