FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has refused to name Zanu PF chefs who benefited from the central bank’s quasi fiscal activities but are won’t pay for the largesse which is part of the RBZ’s troublesome billion dollar debt.
According to former central bank chief Gideon Gono, the farm mechanisation scheme, through which the top chefs looted RBZ, had been funded to the tune of some US$200 million.
Pressing Parliament on Monday to allow government to take over the RBZ’s US$1.3 billion obligations, Chinamasa refused to name the culprits, and instead appealed to legislators to let “bygone be bygones”.
MPs had wanted the looters named so that they could be forced to pay what they owe instead of loading the debt on already struggling Zimbabweans through the state.
The top Zanu PF officials who include Ministers, MPs as well as military chiefs and ordinary supporters received farming equipment which they never paid for during the hyper inflationary era along with loans which also remain outstanding.
Giving oral evidence before the parliamentary committee on budget and finance management chaired by Zanu PF MP David Chapfika, Chinamasa refused to disclose the beneficiaries so that they could pay instead requesting the law makers to let “bygones be bygones”.
“Cde chair, the question from Hon Mushonga (Priscilla) is difficult for me to respond, why we can’t let by bygones be bygones and move on with the issue,” he said.
“Let us approve this debt assumption bill so that the reserve bank can be allowed to operate freely and do its constitutional mandate, be the lender of the last resort,” he said.
Mushonga had demanded that government releases the names of beneficiaries of the state funded mechanisation programme and force them to pay their dues and not allow ordinary people shoulder the burden.
But Chinamasa refused to avail the list.
Government has tabled the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe debt assumption bill so that government could take over the central bank’s debts.
But the MPs have alleged fraud in the debt itself saying some of the figures included in the list of creditors have been manipulated and incorrect.
The debt was accrued through the farming machinery equipment given to Zanu PF members and the committee chair, Chapfika said in some cases, some people were given unwanted items which they are not using.
“I was offered myself a grinding machine and a generator but I turned down the offer because I had it already at the farm. But I now regret that I did not take it, I should have taken the goods because everyone was benefiting,” Chapfika said.
“I know Hon Mushonga refused as well because she was a town girl but the general appreciation is that most of the people who benefited are known are the public is saying let them pay. This is what the people were saying during the outreach programme,” Chapfika said.
But Chinamasa stuck to his guns saying the central bank was acting on behalf of government and as such the tax payers must shoulder the pain.
“The Reserve Bank acted as an agent and should have never put those debts on its balance sheet, it is our (government) responsibility that we take over the debts as long as they are validated and verified,” he said.
Before Chinamasa, Gono also refused to name the beneficiaries although he revealed that the farm mechanisation scheme had gobbled up about US$200 million.
“Section 60 (1) of the RBZ Act [Chapter 22:15] forbids bank staff from disclosing information relating to the affairs of the bank or a customer unless lawfully required to do so by any court or under any enactment,” Gono said in 2012.
“Anybody who contravenes the section shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level seven or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”