‘Whipping system gags MPs’

Source: ‘Whipping system gags MPs’ | Newsday (News)

BY SILENCE MUGADZAWETA

THE whipping system in Parliament has deterred MPs from exercising their oversight role, rendering them ineffective in probing the Executive over opaque loan guarantees and quasi-fiscal activities by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

This was said by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) in its latest weekly report where it called for strengthening of the parliamentary oversight role to safeguard public interest.

“Whereas during the whipping process political parties might explain the muzzling of MPs to speak against own party Executive’s borrowing decisions, the lack of transparency on government loan guarantees and quasi-financing activities by the RBZ ultimately undermines the constitutional safeguards outlined in section 300, while worsening the nation’s debt burden as most government guaranteed loans are siphoned to the government through the Debt Assumption Act,” Zimcodd said.

“The Public Debt Management Regulations (PDMR) of 2019 guiding the loan guaranteeing processes requires further democratisation.”

The coalition said the regulations should do checks and balances to hold ministers to account, thus reducing the risks associated with unilateral and Executive decisions.

“The existing general principles for guarantees and on-lending as defined in the 2019 PDMRs, invests too much authority in the office of the (Finance) minister to facilitate the approval of loan guarantees.”

Zimcodd said there was no transparency on the US$1,5 billion Afrexim loan deal which gave rise to the call to reform public loan guarantee processes.

Zimbabwe’s Constitution requires that the Finance minister must publish the terms of loan agreements or guarantees within 60 days of conclusion.

“However, the government has not published details nor engaged parliamentary oversight.

The government is, however, pushing for “widely-resisted constitutional amendments to relieve the Executive obligations to be accountable to the Legislature regarding debts and deals with foreign actors,” Zimcodd said.

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