PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has signed into law the controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) debt assumption bill.
The development means government has taken over the central bank’s $1.2 billion debt which includes some $200 million doled out as agro-support to top officials in the ruling party.
It also means that Zanu PF top honchos who benefited from the farm mechanisation equipment supplied by the RBZ and never paid for it can now relax and smile
Ordinary Zimbabweans will now pay the debt for them.
According to a notice from Parliament, Mugabe, signed the bill into law last Friday.
The obligations arise from the hyperinflationary era when the central bank engaged quasi-fiscal operations, printing money to feed an insatiable government and its costly patronage system.
The bill was passed in Parliament despite spirited objection from opposition MPs and ordinary citizens who demanded that Zanu PF chefs pay for the farming equipment which they received from the central.
During the debates, MDC-T MP Nelson Chamisa described the law as “diabolical” adding it would impoverish millions of Zimbabweans while protecting a few Zanu PF chefs.
“This law is as good as AIPPA in its original form … diabolic and devilish. It’s an assault on the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
But Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended the bill then saying it aimed at cleaning up the central bank balance sheet and helping the apex bank reclaim its resort to its lender of the resort status.
The opposition failed to block the passage of the bill due to their numerical inferiority in Parliament.