Harare - Zimbabwe’s main opposition party will likely appeal to the Constitutional Court against a bill passed in parliament on Tuesday that could see the government assuming a staggering $1.3b debt from the central bank, an MDC official said.
Eddie Cross of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe debt assumption bill is "wrong".
Some of the Zanu-PF MPs who voted in favour of the bill actually contributed to the debt, the opposition said.
The debt was racked up during Zimbabwe's inflation-riddled crisis years up to and including 2008, when Mugabe's government dished out farming implements to the well-connected and seized money from foreign currency accounts
Cross told News24: “We’re now shifting responsibility of paying back these monies from the individuals who benefited, to the exchequer, to the tax payer.
"We argued that in principle, the bill is wrong; that they should be seeking to recover the funds from the beneficiaries.
“The [MDC] will take the matter I’m sure to the Constitutional Court, and argue that the bill has been passed in an unprocedural manner,” he added.
MDC officials have said the RBZ behaved "like Father Christmas" and even loaned money to First Lady Grace Mugabe to kickstart her dairy in Mazowe, central Zimbabwe. But Zanu-PF MPs claim Tsvangirai too benefited when he was prime minister because a house was bought for him using RBZ funds - although that was after 2008.
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The bill was passed on Tuesday by the lower house with a vote of 115 to 37. It will now have to go before the senate, which is also dominated by Zanu-PF.
Cross said the money had been borrowed not only to finance day-to-day government expenditure, but also “a wide range of activities that were not directly linked to support for government activity, for example the purchase of $200m's worth of farm machinery.”
“There is no evidence before us that any attempt has been made to recover the funds from the beneficiaries, all of whom are members of Zanu-PF,” the MP added.
Some Zimbabweans on social media were not impressed either.
Journalist Nqaba Matshazi tweeted: “Parliament has just voted in favour of RBZ debt assumption bill, this means some people can borrow and not pay back and taxpayers foot bill.”
Former editor of the state-controlled Sunday Mail Brezhnev Malaba wrote: "This culture of freebies is problematic. People get tractors, combine harvesters, trucks [from] the RBZ & now the taxpayer must pay?"