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Zimbabwe Assumes Central Bank Debt Despite Spirited Opposition

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made (right). (Photo/Irwin Chifera)

The government is set to take over the central bank’s $1.3 billion debt after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Debt Assumption Bill sailed through the National Assembly Tuesday.

The Bill passed after 115 ruling Zanu PF lawmakers voted in its favor while 37 Movement for Democratic Change lawmakers opposed it.

The RBZ accrued the debt from conducting what were generally known as quasi fiscal activities which allegedly benefited mostly Zanu PF supporters and lawmakers. This included the farming and mechanization scheme in which Zanu PF members were given farm implements like tractors and seed by the central bank.

It was for this reason that opposition MDC lawmakers asked the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, that Zanu PF lawmakers who benefited be excluded from voting.

But Mudenda allowed them to vote leading to the Zanu PF victory.

Kuwadzana East lawmaker, Nelson Chamisa, said this was a travesty of justice.

But Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, the sponsor of the bill, said Chamisa and the opposition’s concerns were unwarranted.

Mudenda said Chamisa’s worries were valid but declared the matter over following the vote.

Government takeover of the RBZ debt would push the country’s debt to more than $10 billion.

Economists say it’s unnecessary for the government to take over this debt as people who benefitted from the RBZ’s quasi fiscal activities are still alive and can be asked to pay what they owe the state.

Independent economist, James Johwa, told VOA Studio 7 that people who got tractors, combine harvesters, motor vehicles and other goods, would now go scot free With taxpayers being forced to settle their debts.

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