via RBZ under renewed pressure to reveal debtors – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 20, 2015
CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) and opposition parties have threatened to file a court application under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) to force Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to release the names of all beneficiaries of the RBZ (Debt Assumption) Bill.
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Last week, Zanu PF used its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly to pass the contentious Bill which will see the State taking over RBZ’s $1,3 billion debt that accrued after the central bank used its money to purchase farming implements for Zanu PF functionaries under the farm mechanisation programme.
MDC Renewal Team spokesman Jacob Mafume told NewsDay yesterday they were consulting with their lawyers to demand the release of the beneficiaries’ names.
“We are consulting with our lawyers with a view to litigate under the access to information legislation in the public interest that the names of the beneficiaries be released into the public domain before the debt can be assumed by the State,” Mafume said.
He added: “We cannot forgive debt unconditionally subject to the verification of a minister who himself is a beneficiary. We need to know why they are failing to repay and why they need the State to take over debts accrued for private interests.”
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) is reportedly also mulling a similar court challenge.
“The coalition is consulting with other CSOs to launch this litigation against Treasury which wants to let the State take over private debts without full disclosure of the beneficiaries,” the coalition said.
Zimcodd last month unsuccessfully tried to petition Parliament to block the Bill, citing its opaqueness.
MDC spokesman Joshua Mhambi said: “These people who owe the bank are known. It’s unfair to say the public should pay back on their behalf. We need to know who they are.”
About $500 million of the debt, according to available documents, went towards supporting new farmers through farming implements or agricultural inputs which was never repaid.
Most of the beneficiaries are senior civil servants, Cabinet ministers, members of the judiciary and Zanu PF functionaries.
The Bill is now before the Senate after it sailed through the National Assembly despite objections from opposition MDC-T legislators.