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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 17 February 2015 41-17
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 17th February, 2015
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(MR. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY MR. SPEAKER
CAPACITY BUILDING SEMINARS
- SPEAKER: I would like to remind the House that Parliament will resume a series of seminars that are meant to capacitate Members of Parliament in the conduct of Committee business. In this regard, the following Portfolio Committees are invited to attend the Capacity
Building Seminar that will be convened in the Senate Chamber on
Wednesday, 18th February, 2015 at exactly 9:00 o’clock. Honourable Members in the Committees that I will announce here should bring with them their national Constitution.
The Committees are as follows: Youth, Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment; Transport and Infrastructural Development;
Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services; Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. All Committee members are expected to attend this seminar.
RESERVE BANK OF ZIMBABWE (DEBT ASSUMPTION) BILL
(H.B. 7, 2014)
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Bill (H.B. 7, 2014).
Question again proposed.
- GONESE: Thank Mr. Speaker Sir, for affording me this opportunity to participate in this very important debate relating to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption Bill).
Mr. Speaker Sir, this debate has generated a lot of excitement, a lot of controversy and it has drawn mixed reactions and emotions from the people of Zimbabwe. There are people who are in support of the Bill and their view basically is to the effect that, Government must assume the obligations of the Reserve Bank and that the former Reserve Bank Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono was a saviour to this nation at a time when the country went through some difficult times. That is the view and the perception of those people. They believe that the quasi-fiscal activities of the Reserve Bank were necessary and indeed kept the nation afloat and they believe that by-gones should be by-gones.
However, on the other hand, there is a diametrically opposed view. There are people who are vigorously, strenuously and in fact violently opposed to the passage of this Bill. They believe that this Bill is actually a scandal that the people’s Parliament must not even be sitting down to debate and contemplate passing a Bill of this nature. For those people Mr. Speaker, their perception is actually that this is a diabolical piece of legislation. Some of those people equate it to the original, Access to Information and Protection and Privicy Bill (AIPPA) when it came before this Parliament. It was described as a diabolical piece of legislation at the time. In the view of those people Mr. Speaker, if we are saying that by-gones should be by-gones, then we must let the Reserve Bank deal with its creditors, liabilities and if it has any assets, it must deal with those assets. Most importantly Mr. Speaker, if there are any debtors who have caused this debt to be incurred, then those debtors must be made to account and that is the view which those people hold.
I think that, it is incumbent upon us as the people’s representatives to be introspective and to examine precisely what this Bill provides and come to our own judgment as to whether this Bill is in the interest of the nation in its present form; particularly in view of the concerns which have been raised. Some of those concerns, I will articulate them as they have been articulated by members of the public, the people whom we represent and who have sent us to this Parliament.
Mr. Speaker Sir, if you have sight of the Schedule which relates to the prior debts which were said to have been incurred by the Reserve Bank. Indeed Mr. Speaker, there is some cause for concern. One of the issues which has been highlighted is the fact that, the Reserve Bank was doubling in quasi-fiscal activities; diverting from its core business, which is really to set the monitory policy and so on. As a result, through its wisdom or the lack of it, it ended up incurring those massive debts which are listed in the schedule. When you look at the issue of tractors, combine harvesters, disc harrows and other agricultural implements, the assumption is that, the people who benefitted were meant to use those agricultural implements for stimulation or production. If they were so able to increase their production, they should surely be in a position to pay back for the value of the tractors which were bought for them. They should be able to pay back for the combine harvesters and all the other implements which were purchased for them.
Mr. Speaker, we have another category of items which were purchased by the Reserve Bank and this relates to things like cars and generators. The people are saying, we need to know the beneficiaries and those people who got those cars. As you know Mr. Speaker, at the time, the Reserve Bank was behaving like Father Christmas.
- J.M. GUMBO: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. The hon. member is just recycling what is already in the Hansard. There is no new information that he is giving us. So, if he can excuse us -[HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
- SPEAKER: Order, order. I overheard the words; ‘shut up’ and my eyes could not properly identify the hon. member. So, the hon. member is spared but let us not use unparliamentary language. What Dr. Gumbo is simply saying is, let us not repeat what has been stated and bring in some freshness into the debate.
- GONESE: Mr. Speaker, I endeavour to bring in a new dimension different to what was articulated. It might be talking about similar issues but from a different angle. This is what I am endeavouring to do. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker and I also believe that for the purpose of emphasis, it is important for the people of Zimbabwe to understand and appreciate where we are coming from as their elected representatives.
Mr. Speaker, I think what is crucial and important is for this Parliament not to be taken for granted and not to be a rubber stamp. I think that it is in the public domain that there are people who benefitted. I think the angle which I want to bring in now, is where there is a conflict of interest. It is the issue of a conflict of interest. If we are to vote on this Bill, certainly Mr. Speaker, those people who are direct beneficiaries must be precluded from participating in that vote because they are interested parties. That view which I am articulating Mr.
Speaker, finds support in the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act (Chapter 2:08). I think that when it was raised in the debate here, I was not present.
- SPEAKER: Order, order. If my memory serves me right, I think it was Hon. Chamisa who raised the issue and I made a ruling and said, the stage at which we are now does not permit the reference to taking a vote. Secondly, may I draw the hon. member’s attention to Order No. 75, which says we should avoid irrelevance and repetition of what has been stated. I will indulge Hon. Gonese to please continue.
- GONESE: I am now going to refer to the Schedule. I believe that there was no specific reference and the concern of the people of Zimbabwe is that we have got a situation where the Minister expects us to condone payment of things which are not clearly specified. We have a situation of where the debt to Kingdom is referred to as various. What does various mean Mr. Speaker, what precisely was it that the debt was incurred for? That is a serious cause for concern. For all we know Mr. Speaker, that money could have been used by somebody to go and pay lobola for a second wife. The Minister is saying ‘various’, what is various, and it is not just the Kingdom Capital one, it also refers to the one for Metallon, it is also described as various.
Another one to Anglo American is also described as ‘various’. How are we expected Mr. Speaker, to condone something which is just described as ‘various’? What does that mean? We do not know. Surely, we cannot expect hon. members of this august House who were elected to represent the people of Zimbabwe to articulate the aspirations of the people of
Zimbabwe, to simply rubberstamp something which is not specified.
Again Mr. Speaker, we have got the one for Meikles which is said to have been incurred by previous administration and it is the Reserve Bank which is saying purpose not clear. I am not inventing this Mr. Speaker, just read it for yourself. Even the Reserve Bank itself does not even know what the purpose was and the Minister has the guts to come before us and say that we must authorise this – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-The Peoples Parliament cannot be expected to condone or rubberstamp what the Minister has brought before us.
It is my respectful submission Mr. Speaker, that there must be full disclosure. I know that other members have mentioned it before but for the purpose of emphasis I want to explain why we cannot simply authorise or condone it. We need an explanation and this is what members from this side of the House have been at pains to emphasise.
You must have a clear explanation as to how that debt was incurred.
What was it for? We have got too many unanswered question and as long as those questions remain unanswered, we believe Mr. Speaker that we cannot support this Bill.
Mr. Speaker, what is essential is that the Reserve Bank should make an attempt to reduce the amount from US$1.3 billion –[MR. GUMBO: How?] – I know my brother is asking how. Clearly, those people who benefited must pay and reduce that debt, so that we do not condone anything, it should be reduced to a larger extent by those people who fairly benefited, if they got their electricity paid, if they got their fuel paid – because we see Mr. Speaker, when we make reference to the expenses, there is mention of fuel, mention for electricity, whose electricity bill, whose fuel bill? The suspicion Mr. Speaker Sir, is that that there is a perception out there that these and excuse me for the use of the word that this was for the benefit or responsibility of the fat cats who had been benefitting from the fat land over the years and these are the very same people whose bills were paid, who do not want to pay and they expect the poor impoverished tax payer to foot the bill.
As I stand here Mr. Speaker, this Government is well known for being broke. It is on public record that lecturers at our tertiary institutions have not received their bonuses and I understand they have not received their January pay - [AN HON. MEMBER: Vakapiwa.] -If they got it they only get recently but as at the end of January, they did not receive their salaries. So, we have got a Government which is unable to meet its obligations. It has been unable to release the salaries of the civil servants and it wants to assume RBZ debt.
Indeed Mr. Speaker, it is unable to pay for the fuel of the hon.
Members of Parliament who come to Parliament, week in and week out. It is on public record that those payments are way behind and we are expecting that this Government which is unable to meet its obligations, now wants to assume a debt on behalf of the Reserve Bank when the Reserve Bank itself was dabbling on activities which it was not supposed to be doubling.
The point Mr. Speaker is that the former Reserve Bank Governor who used to say that failure was not an option but because of what he was doing, failure became inevitable, now he expects us as a peoples’ Parliament to simply condone it. I believe Mr. Speaker that as people who have got the interests of the people of Zimbabwe at heart and I want to challenge members who are seated on your right if they have got the interests of the people of Zimbabwe at heart, they must join us – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – they must agree with us that Hon. Gumbo, if you have got the interest of the people of Zimbabwe at heart, he must join us and support us to say that it is important before we can pass this Bill to reduce the amount. Then and only then - when we have had full disclosures, full specifications of what were incurred and not if you can excuse me for the use of the word nonsense where you have got something described as various and purpose not clear. We cannot support it and for those reasons Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasise that we will not support this Bill and we are in agreement with those Zimbabweans who are violently and vigorously opposed to this Bill. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
*MS. MANGWENDE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to talk about the issue that was mentioned by the previous speaker. The issue of bonus, we were informed by in Mutare by Professor Madhuku that lecturers at the universities had been given their bonuses. On the issue of equipment for farming that he has mentioned, the equipment we were given in 2007; people went ahead and engaged in farming, even those on the opposite side also engaged in farming, what we sent to the GMB was not paid for. I personally delivered ten tonnes and I have not been paid. So, I think we should be paid for that produce. We all benefited from the crops that we grew that year using those implements. So, what I want to say is that the GMB should honour its obligation and pay us. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
*MS. MANGAMI: I also want to add my voice to the motion under debate. First of all I am going to look at the purpose of this Bill to alleviate the problems that are currently being faced by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
Of course, the figures that have been availed by the former speaker are yet to be validated. I am also a member of this Committee. They have since availed a Debt Office where they are going to be validating each figure before payment of all that has been stated as credit to the RBZ. After all, the payment is not in cash, they have negotiated to pay later and some of them have indicated to have the payments made in three years through Treasury Bills.
So I think, Government is doing that because the RBZ acted as an agent. It has been made in such a way that RBZ is not an aide on its own, it was a strategy by Government to do whatever it did as the RBZ has always been acting under Government instructions. It was formed through a government so it is the Government which has the credit to all these financial institutions. It is only assuming its responsibility as it is not anybody’s responsibility but the Government’s because if you look at the RBZ, it is not a private company but a Government entity. All it has done is to act on behalf of Government.
I believe that the US$1.3 million is not all for the mechanization, only US$200 million went for mechanization of which everybody benefitted from. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - It was a Government programme whereby everybody was actually assisted when we had our Land Reform Programme... – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] -
Of course, we cannot have a …
- SPEAKER: Order, order. The floor is a place where to debate, please stop pointing fingers at each other. You may proceed Hon. Mangami.
- MANGAMI: Thank you very much. As Parliament, we are
being asked to endorse the concept of assuming the debt by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as Government. We are not being told of the exact figures as they are going to be continuously validated. We have agreed that all the figures on that schedule should be verified and the Ministry is doing that. I do not think anyone would want to pay for a job that has not been done since they are responsible Zimbabweans because we need that money. You know we have been under sanctions for quite some time, so every cent counts.
We also need our banks to perform. As you are aware, we have credit that emanated from us taking money from other banks. For them to perform, we need to take over the debt that Government assumed and make payment for that.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker Sir, may I also add my voice on the issue of us members being cautious of what Government’s responsibility is. The institutions that we have as Government are ours and we are responsible for whatever happens to them because we are the very people who created them. So, there is need for us to supervise them and it is still our responsibility if they do not perform.
ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to add my voice to this motion, particularly when we talk about debt assumption. I hope hon. members understand what it means.
What it means is that we are inheriting a debt for the future generations. When we are inheriting a debt for future generations, we must be clear as Parliament and as the third arm of Government what
Government intended to achieve when it did all this. I want to support
Hon. Kuruneri when he spoke because he said, “We need a proper audit of the Reserve Bank on its quasi-fiscal performances to ensure that we get a proper understanding of what transpired”.
I want to say, a lot of members here are debating like they are supporting it because they have a pie in it and have already taken something from it. The issue here is not about whether you took something or not, but the nation must know and understand that this Parliament is assuming a debt which is clearly defined and to whom the money went to, who benefited and what are the main reasons it cannot be paid back? – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -
We insist that there are so many able bodied members who have stood in this august House and argued that they got a tractor. I remember Hon. Chinotimba saying, “Yes, I got a tractor and benefited”. Some of the members are arguing for the sake of their own benefit and not for the sake of the benefit of future generations. Government and us as Parliament, must be looking at this as the Constitution directs. The Constitution states that, we have an oversight role as Government and that oversight role comes by how we analyze Government’s performance. If we leave our work half done and assume this debt, then we will be negating our duties and failing to achieve.
I want to ask that, should we want to pass this Bill without a proper audit and analysis of who owes what? I think, we should put this to a vote because I want to define myself in a secret ballot and say, no, this is not a debt to be assumed by me or any sane-minded Zimbabwean.
*MR. SARUWAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate on the Government to assume the RBZ debt at a time when it was performing duties that were not theirs.
I wanted to clarify that the way I understand this issue is that the Government in this day and age is burdened because of the economic crisis. Hon. Chinamasa has come here a couple of times to present his Budget and explained that the available funds have been used to pay civil servants. So I think, it is not a good move for us to burden the Government with this Bill when it is facing challenges in paying salaries to its workers.
When the RBZ was accruing this debt, it had very good programmes, Sunrise 1 and 2, where there were changes in the money that was available, there was BACOSSI 1 and 2 and those names given were quite entertaining. We also had some mechanisation 1 and 2. What I want to explain Mr. Speaker, is that sometimes people do not understand the mistakes that were made in the accruals of these bills. Some wanted to protect their counterparts, but they might get just a bit in an effort to help a few of their friends. You find that others were given tractors that they are utilising fully. It is not right for us to defend those who have 5 to 7 combine harvesters that are just lying idle at their farms.
In talking about this Debt Assumption Bill, I heard one Member of Parliament talking about the fact that some of the members from the previous Parliament were given vehicles from the RBZ. As Parliament, the Government actually owes us a lot of money and these arrears are still there. If there are any people who received cars from the RBZ, it should be transparent. Our country has very good intentions but it fails in terms of implementation and the issue of the debt that is being explained Mr. Speaker, some of these for example, can be compared to what happened during the land reform. It is not everyone in ZANU PF who was able to get land but others became multiple farm owners. So while we are saying that there should be transparency on how this bill was accrued, is it not that the RBZ gave the same individuals the same implements.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker, we always hear of people talking about the importance of agriculture as a business that yields a lot of money from farming. Those people who were given implements during the farm mechanisation, were given an order to ensure that there is food security in Zimbabwe.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a debt, we are not talking about land reform and how many people benefited from the land reform. So these people should stick to the motion on the Debt Assumption Bill that they know about and that they benefited from. So I do not think there is need for us to proceed with this debate. I thank you – [DR. J. GUMBO: Mr. Speaker, Hon. Zwizai is making a lot of noise, he must go and sit where he is supposed to sit on the other side.] –
- SPEAKER: Order, any member who temporarily crosses
the floor must abide by the ethics of where he goes – [Laughter.] –
*Hon. Chinotimba, I do not think the speaker is out of order, he was about to finish his debate so let him wind up his debate, thank you.
*MR. SARUWAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for your protection
and ensuring that people continue to listen to the debate. What I wanted to say Mr. Speaker is that those people, who were assisted by RBZ on farm mechanisation, were assisted in order to engage in agriculture because agriculture is business as we all know. So if these people do not want to pay for those implements that they have got, are they saying that they admit that they have failed as farmers? If so, they should let the whole country know that they are failures, because if they are managing it, there should not be a problem for them to pay for these implements than for everyone in Zimbabwe to bear the cost and pay for the implements. If this debt is accrued by the Government, it means the Government will not pay for those people with the debts, so we are saying that if they received those implements and used them, they should be requesting for a system whereby they pay in installments for their implements.
If we were to go and borrow such implements from these people, they will personalise these implements but when it comes to paying for the implements, they want us to share the costs. So what I am saying is we cannot agree on sharing the cost of those implements. I want to thank you for the opportunity that you have given me and I want to reiterate that the people who got implements from this country should buy and pay for these implements, so that there is less debt for the country to take care of. I realise that there are those who added this farm mechanisation project to the debt that the RBZ has accrued so they should pay for these implements. I thank you.
+MR. MGUNI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Firstly Mr. Speaker, we should look at what the Minister brought before this august House and I think it is a very good thing because this is preventing people to come to Zimbabwe, if they look at the RBZ statement and realise that they have a debt, they do not come but if they want to assist and they look at the RBZ statement, they get up with it.
- MURAI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker, the hon. member
is debating whilst he is seated.
- SPEAKER: Order what is your name hon. member?
- MURAI: My name is Hon. Murai,I think the problem is your eyesight; the hon. member is on his feet.
+MR. MGUNI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Everyone in Zimbabwe wishes that we get people who can come and assist us in our economy but as the RBZ statement reads debt, debt and debt then it means that no one is going to come and assist us. We must also examine how this came about. If we look at it carefully, you will discover that we had sanctions and these changed the whole economy of the country and disturbed everything.
Things that we never expected then happened, that is when
Government asked for quasi fiscal ….
+MS. T. KHUMALO: On a point of order, when Hon. Gonese spoke about what has just been spoken about; he addressed the House on what was said by others before. He stopped us and said we should not repeat what was said by others but we are always worrying about sanctions. We hear about them in the morning, afternoon and evening. We hear about sanctions everyday but why are you allowing him to talk about sanctions and yet when it is the opposition, you say it is wrong.
+MR. SPEAKER: The last speaker is not Dr. Gono. It is Hon. Mguni. Anyone who is not happy about what we said on sanctions is also allowed to stand up and debate on what we have said so there is no point of order.
+MR. MGUNI: I thank you Mr. Speaker. Since things had gone bad in the country; the Government allowed RBZ to get into quasi-fiscal operation. Government allowed RBZ to get into debt but now
Government wants to extricate the RBZ from the debt. Now the Government is saying, since I the Government gave you the permission to create that debt, I will now take it over.
It is just like a parent; when you have a crippled child, you do not throw that child away but you find means to assist that child. So now the Government is taking over what it started initially so that we get investment in this country. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
*MRS. ZEMURA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate the RBZ (Debt Assumption) Bill. It actually benefits the nation for the Government to assist the majority of the nation and that should be applauded.
There was hunger here in Zimbabwe and the Government intervened. We went through the land reform; many people were given land but did not have farming implements. Government then intervened and gave farming implements and this benefited the country. The Government acts like a parent and through RBZ, should assist to pay this
The major question asked here was that; let us agree that the
Government should take over the bill…
*MR. MADZIMURE: On a point of order, the hon. member did not understand the fact that we are not saying that the Government is not doing any work but we are saying people should pay for their own debts.
Thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
*MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. members, please do not raise point of orders that are not necessary.
*MRS. ZEMURA: Mr. Speaker Sir, my request is that this debate on RBZ should come to a conclusion. RBZ should pay for its debt – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- there is no one who should be called to pay for this bill but the Government and RBZ should pay –[HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
There are some people who discouraged others from acquiring land during the land reform process. If we continue to listen to those people, we are not going anywhere. Today they are in power but their people do not have land. We have land here as ZANU PF. Are you waiting for a time when more land will come to Zimbabwe?
My request is that RBZ and Government should proceed with whatever they want to do and should continue giving people land. We knew that this nation was now ours. For those of us who retreated, let us not retreat, but let us proceed. The RBZ must pay. Thank you Mr.
Speaker. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
*MRS. MUZONDIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue at
hand here is that we are arguing in this House because there are some people who took implements and do not want to pay. Even the Bible says render unto Caesar what belongs to him, so these people should pay.
If we say that the Government should pay, what we are saying is that the Government is the people and most people in Zimbabwe did not benefit from the tractors and the farms. So, those who benefited should pay. If we are talking about the vehicles that were given to MPs, they should be paid for despite which party you are from. So people should be given these things, but my request is that they should pay for these implements and vehicles that they are getting. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
- CHIDAVAENZI: Thank you Mr. Speaker for allowing me
to contribute to this motion. Under the prevailing circumstances, then adversely affected by sanctions, there was no option but for the RBZ to take the initiatives which they did, which effectively served its purpose.
Its purpose was as a sanction busting measure.
Sanctions are a form of cold war. All Zimbabweans benefited either in the form of implements or food security. Hence, it is natural justice that the Zimbabwean Government should pay for Zimbabwean citizens. I thank you.
- BHEBHE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to add my voice on this debate pertaining to the assumption of the RBZ debt.
Madam Speaker, this Bill is a diabolic Bill because it was a mismanaged affair in the RBZ, where a lot of corrupt deals took place in the RBZ.
Where a lot of cronyism and partisan decision took place in the RBZ. Madam Speaker, it is very unfair for this House to ask Zimbabweans to assume a debt that they did not benefit from.
I still remember that we went out for a public hearing. Zimbabweans were explicitly clear that they did not want to pay this debt, so we cannot come here as Parliamentarians and assume that we did not hear what the public said about this debt. We cannot come here as representatives of the same people that refused to pay the debt and endorse that we pay that debt. It is not fair, we will be taking this Parliament to endorse corruption that has reduced this country to the level that it is right now.
Madam Speaker, I take offence if Members of Parliament on your right tell us that Government is supposed to take over a debt of implements that they were given for their own personal use, for their own campaigns. I have seen some of the people that took implements.
Instead of using the tractors to plough, I have seen people ferrying loads and loads of people to rallies instead of going to plough.
- HOLDER: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. My point of order is that the hon. member was not even at these public hearings, so he is misleading this House.- [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order hon. members. The hon. member will have his chance of debating. We cannot wait for answers from all the members who are sitting here, answering each other here. Leave the hon. member to debate and when you stand up, you make your own debate. - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
- BHEBHE: Madam Speaker, I wanted to emphasise that it makes no logic that this very House has a revolving fund where every member accesses money to buy a vehicle to be able to access his constituency. I see no difference if the same House can sanction that all those people that actually acquired implements should pay through the same system they are using to pay for their Parliamentary vehicles. It does not make sense for us to come here and endorse Zimbabweans to pay for a section of Zimbabweans who are not more than a tenth of the population and it is regarded as a public debt.
To me, Madam Speaker, this is a purely private debt that has been turned public by the RBZ. Therefore, I strongly believe that we should just forget and if the other members on your right insist on the
Government taking over the RBZ debt, we will therefore require this House to be divided so that Zimbabweans can actually judge who are the people that come here in this House to sanction looting because, as a Parliament, we cannot sanction looting that took place at the RBZ. We should actually fight against looting and the corruption that took place. We should actually fight against the mismanagement of public funds that took place at the RBZ.
We cannot be seen coming to this House and actually endorsing corrupt, unorthodox means of accessing people’s accounts, which is an illegal act that was done by the RBZ. You cannot, as a central bank, which is supposed to supervise and manage banks, take people’s money without their consent. You then come to this House and require the House to take over the debt which was accrued through unorthodox means. It will not work. It will not bring back the fortunes of this country. It will not improve the economic well being of this country. If we want to improve the economic well being of this country, we have to start managing our affairs properly. That has got to start by the RBZ and that has got to start by this House rejecting this Bill. It should be thrown out of the window because it does not belong to this House. It has to be taken back to the RBZ so that whoever did whatever he did should be answerable, give full answers and give explanations why and who benefited. I thank you.
- GUMBO: I rise to make an appeal to you that we have got many motions on the Order Paper and that some hon. members have been coming to contribute on their motions but there is a lot of interest on this motion. I think if my appeal is accepted by you Madam
Speaker, we can move on to other motions –[AN HON MEMBER:
Hazviite, toda iyoyi.]-
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think Hon. Gumbo is appealing to the Chair –[HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- Let him finish.
Can you please proceed?
- GUMBO: I have made my appeal in the interest of the House. There are many motions which are very important. I am not appealing to the House –[HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- Why cannot you be civilized.
I am appealing because there are hon. members on both sides who have been asking to debate on their motions. If the House is not accepting that then that is fine. If it means we have to divide the House, let us divide the House because across the board, hon. members want to debate their motions. We are coming to debate one motion day-in dayout. I am appealing to say, can we debate other motions as well. That is my appeal.
- WADYAJENA: I second.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am saying we are not removing this debate on the Order Paper but we should also give chance to other motions to be debated on. Tomorrow and Thursday we are coming back to this House and we cannot keep on debating one motion every day. I think we should be sensible at times.
Motion put and negatived.
*MR. MLISWA: I rise to support the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Bill which is in the interest of Zimbabwe. First and foremost, I would like to enlighten some hon. members that any Government which has a good economy does a lot of subsidies. Some of these subsidies are on agricultural inputs and implements. Government subsidies have no limit. It could be to an extent where goods and equipment are issued for free. The Government would be driven by the fact that whatever its intervention is good for the country.
I say so because in Europe, a lot of countries follow the European example. In Europe, a lot of milk was being produced and they were ordered to throw away their milk and the governments paid or compensated for the milk. They threw away the milk and the government paid because there was a glut of milk on the market. So, if Government does not have sufficient funding, can it not then pay a debt to alleviate the people’s poverty. If you look at the Government’s subsidies, they are in order. I have come up with a dimension on why some benefited and others did not. What is fundamental is that was it good that they be given? Was corruption involved? The state has various agencies such as ZRP and other agencies that can look into such issues. They have the right to investigate such cases. Anyone who is disgruntled is free to go and report to those agencies so that Hon Mliswa can be arrested if he has committed a crime. We should not allege corruption without any evidence. That is not proper.
I am also saying that we should not focus more on implements when the debt rose as a result of companies whose bank accounts were raided by the RBZ. For us to go ahead, we require credibility and for us to have credibility, we must pay back to the banks. If we do not do that, our banking sector will lose its credibility and that is why at the moment we have a liquidity crunch. People are keeping their monies in their homes because they are afraid that their monies in the banks might be taken. It is proper for the Government to assume the RBZ debt and that way, we will have credibility in the financial sector and our country will be able to develop. If there is no credibility in the financial sector, we are sitting in this House for no reason.
We have a good Governor, Dr. Mangudya who has helped many people even those in the opposition. We would want him to start his duties on a clean slate as they say in English. Given his intelligence that he is not opposed by anyone in this august House, our economy will grow to greater heights. So, it is fundamental that the credibility of the financial sector be restored. I say so because some of these accounts were offshore. We are looking for offshore loans at the moment because we have a debt that has not been liquidated. Funding is found offshore. I also heard that, Madam Speaker, those who have not accessed implements, Hon. Dr. Made is also waiting to give implements to those of the opposition. Hon. Dr. Made is waiting to give them the implements from Brazil but it is a requirement that one should first have the land, once you have the land, you will be allocated equipment.
You heard in this august House, Hon. Zindi asking about the disbursement of the Brazilian equipment, Hon. Dr. Made said that he is waiting for the majority to have land so that tractors can be distributed. So, I look forward that they are going to be given tractors and then we pull in the same direction. I thank you – [Laughter.] –
*MR. MAPIKI: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate. Firstly, I would want hon. members to know that whenever there is farming in Zimbabwe, it belongs to the Government. The implements that are being made reference to are being used on Government land. This shows that the Government is sympathetic to its farmers who are tilling Government land. Hence we are saying that the Government should assume the RBZ debt. In countries such as Brazil, this has happened, this is not a new phenomenon, so, there is nothing amiss with the Zimbabwean Government assuming this debt. We have bad debtors or what we term doubtful debtors, and those bad debts are retired. We should not be wasting our time discussing this issue.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is imperative for the Government to assume this debt in the same manner as the amnesty is also granted to prisoners. The debt was cutting across. In fact in Mashonaland Central, a lot of equipment was given and production increased. We do not want the Government to keep on importing wheat and maize. People should be able to do farming without debts. The problem is that in the Opposition, we now have divisions. The minister who moved away from one party had allowed that members be given such equipment and it is that former minister who is now being castigated because he is now with the other faction. These are now party fights because in the beginning we had agreed that there be a debt assumption Bill. Because the Finance Minister in the Inclusive Government now has his own new party, members of the original party are unhappy about it, so there is now a feud.
Madam Speaker, I fully support that Government should assume the debt for the RBZ without wasting the hon. members’ time. It is not a new phenomenon. I will give an example of a truck or a police vehicle
if we park it at a police station, it is on its original place, so, equipment is in the right place. From that time, we have been producing, sending wheat to GMB we have not been paid by the GMB because these were during difficult times. This is what one has to come across during sanctions, others do not feel them. There was a time when we did say that we should not overtly praise the traditional healer because you run the risk of having your mother being accused of witchcraft.
When the sanctions were being called for, people were unaware of these consequences. It has drastic consequences. There is no panacea for this in Zimbabwe, so at the moment, the Government should assume this debt. Those that are against such an assumption – yes, we now know that you have a fragmented Opposition and that you have a war amongst yourselves. So, we should support that the Government should assume the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Debt. I thank you.
- ZVIDZAI: I wish to thank you for giving me this opportunity to have an input into this very important debate today.
Madam Speaker, this debate has generated a lot of interest and I can only assume it is because it stands at the core of the interests of the common person in Zimbabwe. The common old, unemployed lady who is in Checheche, in the far corner of this country and all other far corners of this country, I think you have a huge stake with respect to what will happen to this particular debt.
Madam Speaker, it is clear that the RBZ, when it introduced the quasi fiscical apparatus, it was for the purpose of helping people, it was for the purpose of helping certain sectors of the economy, it was for purposes of promoting agriculture as I hear. I am sure Madam Speaker, the RBZ records are very clear with respect to who benefited what and for what purpose. Madam Speaker, the general feeling from the other side of the House is that the debts so owned by individuals be written off from the individuals and be passed on to the generality of Zimbabweans, it is not fair. The question is when we say Government should take over the debt, what are we talking about, what are we saying? We are basically saying the debt must be spread across all the people of Zimbabwe because Government is the people of Zimbabwe.
We must disabuse ourselves of the feeling that Government is some creature sitting somewhere out there because Government is the people of Zimbabwe. So, if this Parliament allows this Bill to pass through, we are saying that every Zimbabwean, the 14 million
Zimbabweans, each now has got a debt equal to US$100.00 because it is US$1.3 billion divided by 14 million which is US$100.00.
All Members of Parliament should be brave enough to go and report back to their constituents over the next weekend to say, I have agreed that all you people in my constituency are now carrying a debt of this much. Each one of us here should be able to go and honestly report to his people that ini ndati wava nechikwereti che$100.00 and let us see whether the people will agree to that. When we come to debate here, we do not debate on our own behalf, we are representatives. Let us go and check whether the people of Zimbabwe, the common person, chembere, young people, the foetus that is still in its mother’s womb - agree to have a US$100.00 debt on account of comrade so and so who is enjoying equipment that he got.
Madam Speaker, as a nation, we must learn to cultivate a new citizen who is good, takes his own responsibilities and accepts them. We have people who benefited thousands and thousands of dollars worth of equipment. They are bad and unpatriotic citizens in that they do not want to stand up and say, I owe this much and I must own up and pay back. We cannot keep developing Zimbabweans who are so bad, we cannot keep inculcating Zimbabweans to become bad citizens who do not pay back debts, who expect to eat what they have not killed and expect to reap where they have not sown. It is not right. Both sides of the House must accept that we must grow in order to become good citizens.
Now, what does this debt mean? What does it mean to the nation to say, the Government has got a new debt of US1.3 billion? For me, it means that for the next five or so years or for the rest of the remaining term of this Parliament each year, the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development has to find more than US$400 000.00 to pay off this debt.
If he were able to do that, it means a lot of other developmental issues will not be funded as it will be difficult to begin to fund the revival of industry. It means as we put half a billion into this debt, we cannot fund improvement of health delivery because a collection of people benefitted unfairly from this US$1.3 billion at the expense of improving our hospitals, schools, conditions of service of civil servants and failure to improve infrastructure. It will significantly slow down our ability to engage in development processes.
Madam Speaker, we must just encourage beneficiaries of this good intended policy or people who benefitted from the Reserve Bank to just pay back and make sure that the country moves forward and ensure that we do not load upon myself an amount that I have not benefitted from.
Madam Speaker, the albatross on the neck of the economic recovery of this country is debt, both foreign and internal. It will not help our situation to add more debt onto this nation because we must be busy looking at how to reduce this debt rather than how to increase it.
This side of the House has proposed methods of how to liquidate this debt and one of the methods is for the members who benefited to pay. The other method is for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to have a look at their own asset base and say, do we need this or that so that they can liquidate some of the debts from the disposal of some of the Reserve
Bank assets. As a House, we cannot agree to burden innocent
Zimbabweans with debt that is careless and from irresponsible citizens.
Thank you very much.
- CHAKONA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I
would like to debate on this motion on the assumption of the Reserve Bank debt by Government.
I would like to start by saying, we are very excited about the move because, first of all it cleans the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s balance sheet so that it looks attractive for further borrowing by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The second thing is that whichever way we look at it, whether we keep that debt at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or if it is assumed by Government, the debt still has to be financed by
Government. So, there is no need for us to keep a debt which Government still has to pay in the books of RBZ instead of Government just assuming that debt.
The other thing is that we are talking about Government assuming a certain responsibility. I came across a book on the research on agriculture in Southern Rhodesia and this was done in 1963 to 1964. The then Rhodesian Government wanted to understand why farmers were failing to produce for the nation. After Mr. Johnsons’ research, they actually found out that there was need to train farmers. This research was carried out from 1951 to 1963, a period which was very critical because the economy then was having problems because of the droughts that were occurring during that time.
At the end of that research, they found out that there was need to construct agricultural research and training centres to train land development officers who were going to be deployed in every province in the country. The Government assumed the responsibility to train farmers in Rhodesia from 1964. If you look at our history, you will find that all construction of agricultural institutions was done from 1965.
This means that the Rhodesian Government was subsidizing agriculture in a way … -[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – by enabling farmers to produce for the nation. If we go further in the research, you will find that there were years when the Government would buy grain at an exorbitant price in order to cushion the farmers and there were also years that they would buy at a reduced price because there were excesses.
All these measures were being designed to promote agriculture and I think in this august House, it would be very unfortunate that we continue to attack those who benefitted from the mechanisation period that was designed to promote production in the farms. We are only talking of a smaller percentage of the debt but the critical issue of the assumption of this debt is to create an enabling environment for the RBZ to start borrowing so that this economy can start operating in a normal way. We want this country to have access to multi-lateral funds that are available in the world, just like any other normal RBZ that is operating in the world.
Madam Speaker, I think it is important that we stop debating on who benefited from what because that has been explained, that has been made very clear. Let us focus on the assumption of the debt by Government. We know even during war time after the war in 1980, people were compensated, those who suffered some injuries or anything during war. There was also the War Victims Compensation Fund that was set up by Government to compensate those people that actually had injuries during the war; those that lost their cattle and houses. In this case Madam Speaker, during the hyper inflation, people lost money and assets and we all know that. The de-monetisation that is being spoken about is there to actually cushion those who lost their assets during the ZIM dollar era and we all know that we lost our assets and money during the hyper inflation which was a product of the sanctions, who does not know that?
Some of our friends were even celebrating during the hyper inflation era to demonstrate that our Government has failed. Now, the Government is actually correcting that problem which was caused by some of us who are sitting with us here who went about calling for the imposition of this country. Now this is being corrected, this is now being redressed and it can only be done when the RBZ balance sheet is clean. Let the Government assume this debt, that is the only way we can clean up our past and then we start afresh.
Madam Speaker, it is important that we understand as parliamentarians that we were voted into Parliament by people who are out there and they are waiting for our Government and ourselves to produce positive debates out of this House. I thank you Madam Speaker.
*MR. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I also want to add my voice on the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill. What I would want to clearly spell out is that which I want people to know, that the issue of the motor vehicles as regards the debt, we are now in this bad habit of not paying for our debts. I heard a member from the ruling party saying that hon. members received motor vehicles. As I stand in this august House, I would want to state that myself and other members of the
Seventh Parliament were unable to access those vehicles and this is on record. The reason is that when those vehicles were disbursed by the RBZ, it was quite clear that these vehicles would be paid for. We also observed that we were unable to pay for these vehicles and our colleagues said the vehicles would be for free. It is our fault if we could not access these vehicles. It is also true that our colleagues accessed these motor vehicles for free. I would also want to make clear the issue of credibility ...
- HOLDER: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. The hon.
member is speaking in two languages, shonglish, you must stick to one language – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, hon. members. I did
not hear the other languages that he used. Hon. member, can you please proceed.
*MR. MUNENGAMI: It is difficult Mr. Speaker, when one does not understand Shona. At times, there might be problems but I will proceed. The matter at hand is that the problem we have is that when one has realised that you have struck a nail on the head, they would want to interfere with your line of thinking, and this is what I have done. If I were to turn my mind to the importance of the Bill, it is true that in 1963 Government used to subsidies farming. The subsidies that Government gave during the training of a land development officer, they would specifically mention what their training would entail...
*MR. MANDIPAKA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. We
want to assist the hon. member he did not say ‘subside’ but he said
‘subsidies’. I thank you.
*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: There is not point of order.
Hon. member, please go ahead.
*MR. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. What I wanted
to say was that when land development officers were being trained by the Ian Smith regime in 1963, they would clearly spell out that he would be receiving training and there would be such an amount in terms of loan that needed to be repaid. What is the debt of RBZ, as individual hon. members, how much do we owe? A lot of the members who are speaking owe almost a million dollars. They are in this august House and are in the fore front campaigning for the assumption of the debt. There are also others who owe US$20 or US$10 but can a person who owes US$20 be treated the same as one who is owing a US$1m. Another previous member in their contribution said that we are now burdening ordinary people in Zimbabwe. The generality of people who sell tomatoes are going to be assuming this bill because Government is the people. We should clearly point out that I, Hon. Temba Mliswa for example, how much do I owe RBZ. If that is disclosed, we will then know that we are pushing for the assumption of the Bill because you owe US$750 000. We should not mislead this House. There are some hon. members who misused this fund.
The war victims fund was also abused. 50 000 Zimbabwe dollars were given and some misused the money and bought cabbages for cattle. There are some people who were given farming equipment, sold it and made profits out of the proceeds because they knew that this debt was never going to be repaid. Others were having parties and slaughtering goats. Others took ‘small houses’ and others bought fire arms to go against the Government but we should not be allowed to assume this
We should clearly spell out what is owed. Let us be transparent so that things can move well. Once we do not take that route, our constituencies are going to cry foul because we will be misleading ourselves. This was not the people’s mandate at the time when they elected us. We are their servants; we should not lie and cover corruption. It has also been mentioned that we need credibility so that we can get funding from other countries. We can never access that funding for as long as we are corrupt and we are abusing and enjoying self aggrandisement. With these few words, I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
*MR. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker for this
opportunity. If we were to look into this issue of the Bill in question, you will observe that a lot of things that are in this Bill and if an audit is to be carried out; to what purpose the money was used – it was not just farming. There were a lot of things that should be mentioned.
Some of the debt that we are being asked to assume is debt for the Government which was used in 2008 general election campaigns. This money was used to buy Mitsubishi motor vehicles that transverse the length and breadth of this country. These were used to defeat a democratic war. During this process, a lot of people lost their lives and today as Parliamentarians, we would want to pass such a Bill. I will not be found standing up as one of those members who will support such a
I appreciate that it was money that was used to defeat the democratic process that had taken place during that time. If you were to look at the history of that Bill, some people who are in this House and who represent constituencies were given monies and they purchased chen long 30 tonne double decker vehicles. Today they even have such vehicles and they are making profits out of that. They are using these trucks and making profits and they are now saying they are not going to be repaying this debt and that Government should assume this debt.
This is not dignified at all –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
In our country, it is said that we can use Ndau. It is one of our official languages. That is why I am at liberty to debate in that language. I also would want to say that if we were to look at the items that were being given and the people that are Members of Parliament; some were given fertilizers amounting to 30 tonnes and this is about 20 000 dollars. Others were given tractors, fertilizers and various equipment amounting to 750 000 dollars. Today we are now saying that this debt should be assumed by the Government.
Using our own brains as representatives of the people; can we surely believe and say that all of us should now pass the debt to the ordinary people or the vendors to assume this debt. We should have the same thinking and not accede to this Bill.
I would like to spell out this; the RBZ should come up with a document that clearly spells out how each dollar was used. In simple terms, each cent should be accounted for. Once there is that document, Parliament should have the document. We should then look at the document and see how much each person got and how that money was used. We should not just be majoring on trivialities. We should not accept everything.
We are all dignified and honourable as members dressed in our suits but some know that there are others who benefited 20 000 dollars, others 2 million. Others do not even know how this money was used for. I will not proceed any further but I would want to reiterate that we should think clearly as we debate this issue to see if this Bill is going to be beneficial to the country or to certain individuals. Thank you Mr.
*MR. CHIWETU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me take you back to the land reform. When land was acquired for resettlement, that is when sanctions were imposed. These sanctions were imposed so as to portray that Zimbabweans had been resettled in bad light as bad farmers.
The wisdom that Government has in its leadership then observed that they could not be defeated by fools. Still going back, before the advent of the land resettlement era, in support of Hon. Chakona who earlier on spoke, European farmers used to have Government assistance. They used to even ask what would be done if there was a drought after they would have carried out farming activities. The Government used to give them free loans and soon after harvesting, they would repay and then they would again borrow and repay. This was free funding or they mainly had surety.
They used to demand that if they failed to secure any loans, then they would not be involved in any farming. When the land reform took place, white farmers were told to leave the farming equipment because it belonged to the Government, but some equipment was recovered on transit to Malawi and Botswana and stored at half way houses. A lot of tractors were kept there and various other equipment which was being sold which had been stolen. These whites had stolen. In Bromley, there was another white farmer who was selling tractors on the side of the road. So, when the Government realised that these people had stolen tractors and Government equipment, they purchased new equipment and distributed to the people so that they could continue farming.
What happens in a family is that when the mother prepares a meal, not everyone is going to be satisfied, so you cannot ask the mother to cook another portion so that you can consume. Those that failed to access anything were not there. Using my example of sadza, those that did not partake the sadza were not there.
I support Hon. Mutseyami who said that this debt is not for the tractors only. I am still aware that before my advent into this House, there was a house that was constructed and it was allocated to Mr. Tsvangirai. It is part of the debt. The house was painted and that cost is a part of the debt. We are saying that the Government must assume the debt because if we are to ask Mr. Tsvangirai to pay US$3 million, he does not have it. He cannot even afford to pay it in monthly installments. So there is a long history with this debt and revisiting it would mean that we would end up having a bigger figure than what we actually have. So, Mr. Speaker Sir, we are saying that the Government should assume this debt so that the new RBZ Governor starts on a new slate and we are able to assess his performance. With those few words, Mr. Speaker Sir, I urge that the Government should assume this debt. I thank you.
- M. KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I happen to be a member of the Budget and Finance Committee which went to find out what people are saying about this debt. I happened to be a Member of Parliament who was a there when this debt was incurred and I happen to know that Government and the RBZ had this debt over the years, since 1999.
Mr. Speaker Sir I happen to understand what Government is. It is the people. I happen to know what the RBZ is. It is a parastatal and a banker of Government. I wonder when hon. Members of Parliament stand up, who represent the same people who are the Government, who at that time when the quasi fiscal activities that were done by the RBZ were hungry and were given land when the same Government says
‘RBZ who is my banker, can you borrow from banks even if you do not have money and give the people so that they get seeds, stand up and oppose this debt. The same Members of Parliament like Hon. Bhebhe; we were together. He represents people in Nkayi and I represent people in Lupane who got some ploughs. I am one of the people who got a plough from the RBZ which I used and am still using it to plough. I have managed to send maize to the GMB, though GMB has not paid me.
That maize is going to town to feed the town people.
I am so worried, Mr. Speaker, to hear Members of Parliament asking the same Government which asked its own banker if it could assist it so that it clears its balance because this balance is not actually for the RBZ, but it is for the Government. It was a mistake for RBZ to put that money under its books, otherwise Government should have taken money, if it had money, and given it to the GMB to give to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development so that it buys farming implements.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to ask my fellow MPs that are arguing that
Government must not take this debt, if they have read the list of people who are owed money by the RBZ? The people who we owe money are indigenous banks. Some of them have collapsed. Meikles, for example, are our very good friend that has assisted this Government even in the hard times. We owe Meikles large sums of money and people are saying that we must not, as a Government, give Meikles its money.
Surely, Mr. Speaker Sir, I understand that some of these Members of Parliament did not benefit, but most of us benefited here and surely, to stand up here today to say it was wrong to give tractors and for banks to give RBZ money to assist agriculture when the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation development, Minister Made, was reporting that last year maize farmers produced a lot of maize for the country which we are eating. That maize is a product of the implements that we are talking about here that Government must pay for.
- MUTSEYAMI: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker Sir, we never said it was wrong to borrow but we are only saying they must pay
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: There is no point of order
- M. KHUMALO What the hon. member assisted me to do and I want to end this one – last week the Minister of Finance and Economic Development gave the Reserve Bank US$100m - people’s money to do what? The Government wants money from RBZ to pay people when it also gives money. That money which was given last week must be taken and given to the banks which are owed. What is the difference? This money must be paid back and Government must pay it.
- P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for affording
me the opportunity to debate on this Bill. It is actually a privilege to debate this Bill whilst I am facing the Minister of Finance and Economic Development who initiated the Bill in this House.
Even as I am debating this Bill, I am alive to the fact that our economy is almost in a comatose. I am alive to the fact that we are debating apportioning the burden of paying back this debt to an ordinary teacher whose wage is already below the Poverty Datum Line. I am aware that even as we debate in this House, the majority of the few workers that are still employed in this country are struggling to feed their own families. On top of the struggles that they are facing, this House is seized with trying to increase the burden that they are already facing.
I am debating on this Bill at a time when even hon. members are not sure whether they will get fuel coupons at the end of the week to go back to their constituencies because Government cannot afford that. Having said all that Mr. Speaker Sir, it is important for me to acknowledge that the objectives and the motives of the Bill are noble. The nobility of the Bill is in that it seeks to return that which was unlawfully and wrongfully taken from entities and individuals operating within the economy.
However, I am guided in debating this Bill by a key issue that has been raised by the Minister of Finance in his two previous Budget
Statements that he has given. The Minister of Finance and Economic
Development emphasised the point that the major challenge that our economy is facing has got to do with lack of confidence. Therefore, as I am going to debate on this Bill, it is pertinent that I emphasise how this Bill is going to impact on the confidence that investors, both local and foreign will have on our economy.
Firstly, paying back what is owed to entities and individuals indeed in an ordinary manner creates confidence, especially in the financial market. However, what I have heard from this Bill is that Government intends to pay through Treasury Bills. Ordinarily Treasury Bills are supposed to be risk free securities. In our case unfortunately, our Treasury Bills are not risk free. They are literary junk bonds and therefore, it is my view that even if we promise to pay those that we owe through the Treasury Bills, confidence is not going to be created in the economy because they do not have the guarantee that those Treasury Bills will be settled.
Again on the issue of confidence, I believe that every action that we take as a nation be it legislative or otherwise, it is important that we try to do it in order to address issues of confidence. This Bill therefore should be interrogated on whether it is going to create confidence in the economy or it is not going to create confidence. Confidence among other factors is a function of good governance. It is my view ordinarily that confidence is created as a function of good governance.
I am going to touch on eight characteristics of good governance that might have an impact on confidence in an economy as a result of how we handle this Bill. The eight characteristics that I am going to touch on that build good governance are: participatory, consensus oriented, accountability, transparency, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. The participatory aspect of good governance is also enshrined in our Constitution in that it is stated that our people, those that are the voiceless outside there should also be able to feed into whatever laws that we care coming up with as a country. The report that was read by the Committee on Finance and Economic Development clearly states that people outside there are saying that they are not willing to settle this
Bill on behalf of certain individuals.
I want also to state that accountability and transparency seem to be seriously lacking when we talk of this Bill. There is a lot of opaqueness that is actually accompanying the manner that this Bill is being railroaded in this House. What people are demanding is that those that benefited from this debt should be clearly stipulated like the hon.
member indicated, whether out of speculation or fact that Mr. Tsvangirai benefited from that debt. That is what he indicated. I am saying we are creating room for speculation because we are not coming out clearly with the list of beneficiaries. I would want to state that currently as we speak, there is speculation to the fact that Alpha and Omega was founded upon a bill of US$200m that came from this very debt.
Now, that speculation that the First Family founded their company Alpha and Omega from that very debt that today Zimbabweans are supposed to pay back, it will remain speculation unless…
- MUKWANGWARIWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker
Sir. The hon. member is talking about the First Family having benefited from the RBZ debt and it has nothing to do with the debt.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Did he say so, he said First Family? Order, order. Hon. Sibanda, why do we want to get into issues that we may not be able to defend tomorrow? Please speak to the Bill.
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: Mr. Speaker, let me explain my point, I am not going to withdraw – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order, if you said that
statement, may you withdraw that please.
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: Mr. Speaker, before I withdraw – In terms of Order No. 63, I am allowed to explain myself…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May you withdraw.
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: I am allowed to explain myself
before I withdraw. Before you order me to withdraw, allow me to explain myself so that you can hear what I said.
- MANDIPAKA: On a point of order. Thank you Mr. Speaker
Sir, I want to believe the hon. member is defying even our standing
order because he is delving in the First Family’s affairs but he has no evidence of what he is talking about. [HON. MEMBER: I withdraw.]
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: That is why I am saying Hon.
Sibanda should withdraw.
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: What am I withdrawing? – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, please at the back
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: I am sure my colleagues on the other
side could not have heard me properly, if they did not hear me properly, I withdraw that which they did not hear properly.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Please withdraw.
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw. The point
that I am emphasising is that it is important that we create some kind of transparency when we are dealing with public funds and public resources. The point that I am trying to emphasise is that right now because of this opaqueness in the manner that this Bill has been handled, there is a lot of speculation. I indicated that part of the speculation is what has been raised by the previous speaker where he indicated that the Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai bought a house for 1.5 million and this speculation Mr. Speaker is actually extending to the fact that now some people are imputing that Alpha and Omega was founded on US$200 million that was part of US$1.3 billion dollars.
Now Mr. Speaker, the question that I have before this House is, is it what we desire as Parliament that our leaders should be speculated to have benefitted wrongful from that amount of money? Is it what we intend to do that people should then start to speculate that the big companies that are owned by the leaders of this country were actually founded on monies that were siphoned from the US$1.3 billion. Are we trying to create an impression to the people that Zimbabwean leaders can simply go and get money and then order its poor people to go and pay back the money on their behalf.
Therefore, in order to kill this speculation, in order to kill this opaqueness Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is important that the Minister should be able to list each and every beneficiary of that US$1.3 billion dollars. Only on the basis of that list Mr. Speaker can this House be informed on whether we should be able to take that Bill or not.
Therefore Mr. Speaker, in the eyes of potential investors that the Hon. Minister is everyday crying for to come into this country to lay their money into this economy; we remain still a country that is not transparency; we still remain a country that is busy robbing its national fiscus for individual benefit. Unless Mr. Speaker, we can deal with those issues, then the issue of confidence in this economy will continue to be a problem to us. No sane investor will bring money in any economy where the leaders can secretly and Nicodemusly take money so that the public then pays. We will not rectify the situation of our economy unless we begin to practice good governance especially in areas to do with transparency.
Mr. Speaker, it is my view that as a Parliament our constitutional responsibility is to ensure that we superintend on how national resources are used by the Executive. Now, what are we saying, if we look into the Bill, the Hon. Minister is actually saying that let us pass the Bill.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Sibanda. Vehicle
ACM 0258 is blocking other vehicles. Please go and attend to that vehicle.
- DUBEKO SIBANDA: My perusal of the Bill, Mr. Speaker.
The hon. Minister is saying that let Parliament pass the Bill and then the team that is responsible for validation will do it after the fact.
What he is saying is that, literally we are surrendering our powers as Parliament to superintend over usage of resources by the Executive because there is no way we can then say checking over the manner that the Executive is using resources if validation is going to happen after the Bill has been passed. It is my view that the validation should happen now prior to us having the Bill being passed in this House because that way we will be able to see whether indeed what we are passing is in the personal or national interest. Thank you Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity that you gave me.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHINAMASA): Mr. Speaker, I want to
thank the hon. members who have made contributions to this debate. I am heartened by the interest shown in debating the Bill as it demonstrates that Members of Parliament have applied their minds and it has brought out in full focus the issues that are involved.
Let me reiterate that the thrust of the Bill primarily, is to clean-up the balance sheet of the Reserve Bank. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – that is the thrust. Why cleaning it up? At the moment, burdened with US$1.35 billion debt on its balance sheet, it means we have no sound financial services system. The Reserve Bank is the pillar of the financial services sector. If you compare it to our bodies or the blood system, it is the heart. If the heart is sick, then the whole system is in trouble. . – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – So, I want us to remain focused that this is the main thrust. I am happy that even those who are opposing this Bill are not in contention with that thrust, we all agree that the balance sheet must be cleaned.
After cleaning the balance sheet, we can now capitalise the
Reserve Bank. We need something like US$250 million to capitalise the Reserve Bank. Just imagine putting US$250 million into a balance sheet which has US$1.35 billion, it makes no sense. So, I want to emphasise that, already we have raised US$100 million to capitalise because currently, the Reserve Bank is receiving a subvention from Treasury to keep it afloat. We are paying something like US$2 million or so a month to keep it afloat but that is not how it should be. It is that way because primarily, as you know, it makes a big chunk of its monetary role by not being able to print money.
Central banks everywhere make money from printing money but the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is not doing it. They make money from lending through the interbank lending system, interbank activities. Currently, that is not happening but we are hoping after some capitalisation, that process with the assistance of Afrexim Bank, we can get started on interbank lending activities where the central bank can lend overnight interests and make its money. So, I want to emphasise that point Mr. Speaker.
I also want to emphasise that we are talking about monies borrowed by the Reserve Bank and not monies lent by the Reserve Bank. In other words, monies lent by the Reserve Bank are assets on the balance sheet of the Reserve Bank as they represent debtors. How recoverable those debts are is a different issue but we are talking about monies that were borrowed from various economic players in our economy. We are now saying, at the very least, what I am doing here is I do not have the money and Treasury does not have the money.
At the very least, we are saying, we will give Treasury Bills which is a debt instrument acknowledging debt in order to build-up confidence. Even for those who may not be corporate, at least the asset can be inherited by their heirs. So, we are merely acknowledging debt and the
Treasury Bills will mature at various times, period and we hope that the
Budget can be able to meet those Treasury Bills on maturity.
I remember there was an hon. member who seemed to rubbish these Treasury Bills calling them junk, whatever. That is all a problem when Members of Parliament speak carelessly and recklessly about such matters. You are undermining your own confidence. – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes, you are undermining your own confidence because we have not failed to pay Treasury Bills when they mature, so why call them junk? You say these statements recklessly but in the process, undermining our very efforts to recover this economy and undermining the confidence that we are seeking to build in this economy.
There are several members who think that we should go into the past. Mr. Speaker, I am going to devote the energies I have towards plotting a path into the future because if we spend our time looking at the past, we will just spend time quarrelling and it will not give us the momentum that we need to face the future. Let the past be lessons for the future so that we avoid those things that we think we did wrong in the past. Spending time trying to delve into who brought sanctions, who travelled to meet Susan Lightsey and so on is no longer of any benefit to me.
A lot of what has happened has been because of our unique situation, the imposition of sanctions which crippled our capacity to honour our external and international obligations, which basically undermined and brought our economy to its knees and we are still now in a process to recover that economy. My own thrust is basically to look forward and backward never. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – There will be historians, no doubt, who want to know what happened in the past. I will respect their wishes, they can dig and research to find out what happened in the past but for me, I want to say that the future for us is beckoning and we must seize the opportunities that are being presented and not spend our time looking into the past.
We had very constructive engagement with the Governor and the Committee and I am very grateful to the Chairman of the Committee and the Committee who supported this Bill. The members of the Committee, in a way, also supported the Bill and I am very grateful to them. I am grateful because the engagements were very constructive and confidence building but they raised certain anomalies and I propose to deal or address those anomalies in amendments to the Schedule when we come to the Committee Stage of the Bill. I promise to do that.
What I think is also important to highlight Mr. Speaker is that the process of verification and validation is a long process. It could take years and we cannot hold back bringing sanity to the financial services sector over years, we cannot afford that. A Bill is coming to Parliament in due course where we are setting up a Zimbabwe Debt Management Office in my Ministry basically to verify and validate these debts - verifying and validating and I am hoping that when the Bill comes, I can also receive the support of this august House.
Hon. Chapfika also made a point that we should raise awareness of this Bill. When all is said and done, I do not think there is any other piece of legislation that we have debated here which has raised awareness of the population as this Bill. I have heard it debated on radios, televisions, in this august House and on many fora. So, in terms of awareness, I think the public is fully briefed about the measure that we are taking. Primarily, we are cleaning up the balance sheet of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, with a view to restoring confidence in the financial services sector and the role of the Central Bank to superintend effectively and efficiently the financial services sector. I think the public is generally in agreement that that is the correct thrust that we are taking.
There was also a point that the earlier Schedule did not include the small creditors. I think the Schedule that we are going to substitute will go some way towards addressing that problem. On the recommendation of the Committee, we are also going to include the commercial banks amongst the institutions, to benefit from the provision on immunity - that we have taken on board.
I want to thank in a special way, Hon. Kereke for going to quite some length in giving the background on how these debts were incurred over the period that they were incurred. Clearly, it was a state of emergency and like I pointed out to the Committee and I do not mind repeating it here, on the few occasions that I acted, I am sure among the authorities which are with the Central Bank, there will be some authority which also bears my signature. We were confronted with a situation which required immediate response and we had no time to rationalize or to try to make sense out of the points which are now being made by the hon. members.
Hon. Chamisa has more questions than answers. I must also say when we look back and say why are we in this economic situation; we also come with more questions than answers. Why did we go out of our way to destroy our own economy, our own country when in fact we are now the losers and it is very difficult to reverse some of the measures that were imposed, especially the United States of America. Those measures will take us years to reverse, as you know when they imposed sanctions on former President Nelson Mandela, they were only removed after he was dead. So, it is very important when we take some of these measures or we go to outsiders to ask for impositions of sanctions against our own country, they take years.
Hon. Majome spent quite some time talking about ethical issues and not addressing the point in issue. I must say that most of the contributions which were made were basically addressing other issues and not the issue which is clearly before them. The one is - we are seeking to take over the debt of the Reserve Bank to clean up its balance sheet. With these few remarks Mr. Speaker, I now move that the Bill be read a second time.
- MASHAKADA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
- MASHAKADA: My point of order is based on the fact that
when the Minister explained the origin of the debt, he attributed all the debt to borrowings by the Central Bank only and he said that everything else the bank is owed are assets. I am concerned because this is on record in the Hansard, maybe it was a slip of the tongue on the part of the Minister. Our understanding was that whatever monies were advanced or assets advanced because they are now irrecoverable, they now constitute debt. So over and above any earlier borrowings that the Reserve Bank had, whatever becomes irrecoverable, even it is not borrowings is also classified as total debt of the Reserve Bank. So, I thought the Minister would clear that slip of tongue.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHINAMASA): Thank you very much, I do
not know whether I made a slip of the tongue. What we are taking over are liabilities by the Reserve Bank to creditors. Some of them were negotiated, others not negotiated. If the Reserve Bank went and took money in a company’s account, it becomes a liability by the Reserve
Bank to that company; that is what we are taking over. - [AN HON. MEMBER: Assets.] -These were done in the context of quasi fiscal activities but what we are taking over, let me emphasize are liabilities by the Reserve Bank to creditors which were incurred in one form or another, some through negotiations and others not to meet the exigencies of the situation existing at the time.
I move that the Bill be read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee State: Wednesday, 18th February, 2015.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHINAMASA), the House
adjourned at Five Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.