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Zimbabwe's Feuding Governing Parties United on Central Bank Reform Bill

Despite lingering tensions in Zimbabwe's unity government over adhesion to the terms of the 2008 power-sharing pact, Parliament on Wednesday passed an important piece of legislation for the reform of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe following a last-minute deal struck by the majority Movement for Democratic Change and the former ruling ZANU-PF.

Political sources said the deal was brokered by Chief Whip Innocent Gonese of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ZANU-PF lawmakers Paul Mangwana and Mabel Chinomona. Bill readings halted Tuesday after ZANU-PF demanded amendments, but the bill fast-tracked to a vote sending it debate in the Senate in early December.

Political sources called the legislation, proposed by Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a major blow to his rival, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, whose powers it curtails.

The Tsvangirai MDC has long been seeking Gono’s replacement at the central bank, but some political sources said passage of the bill could ease government tensions over Gono.

Some economists cautioned meanwhile that the finance minister will gain considerable power at the central bank, possibly compromising its independence on monetary policy.

MDC Parliamentary Whip Gonese told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the last-minute amendments included language on RBZ borrowing powers. Economist Prosper Chitambara noted that most countries aim to protect central bank independence.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...