Lawmakers and civil society organisations (CSOs) have lambasted Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube for entering into resource-backed loan agreements, adversely affecting the already ailing economy.
Zimbabwe continues to receive loans, especially from China, with the southern African country securitising its mineral resources.
Recently, Ncube told Parliament Zimbabwe acquired a US$200m debt from China backed by the country’s platinum reserves.
The CSOs and legislators are now demanding transparency and accountability from the government.
Speaking at a recent Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, Gweru urban legislator, Brian Dube, said loans must be taken with care and due diligence and must always be disclosed on time so that the ultimate consequences of loans do not suffocate the country.
“What it means is that a loan can only be undertaken by a government for purposes of production and not consumption,” Dube said.
He said a loan must be taken with the approval of parliament.
“The situation we have now is that a deal was only disclosed to parliament by the Minister (Mthuli Ncube) after having been engaged and with serious interest.
The US$ 200m loan, we didn’t feel it as a country so it means it was not useful to us. You would note that it was mainly used for purposes of agricultural inputs,” Dube said.
He said the loan was used in a partisan way for purposes of campaigning by the ruling party and “after giving each other those things you now realise that it was a debt that every one of us must pay including some of us who never benefitted anything from the loan”.
Dzikamai Bere director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association said the contraction of the US$200m loan was done in a manner that was ultra vires to the Constitution and the future generations would pay the price.
“Section 300 and section 299 of the Constitution gives parliament an oversight role regarding these matters and you have one arm of government deciding unilaterally that they are going to sell the future of our children,” Bere said.
“So, that creates a problem of accountability. It overthrows the Parliament and as a result, our children will suffer the most in the future as they will be responsible for the legacy debt.”
The executive director of Transparency International Zimbabwe, Tafadzwa Chikumbu, said mineral resources are finite and cannot be replenished once depleted.
“So, they have to be managed in a sustainable manner to ensure that those that are currently managing the resources take into cognisance the current needs and also the needs of the future generations,” Chikumbu said.
He said the deal itself increases the corruption risk profile of Zimbabwe.
“Anyone who comes and invests in Zimbabwe and anyone who has interest in the country can actually look at us as a country that is corrupt, because nothing like that can happen without a few benefitting from those resources and of course there is a high likelihood that there is primitive accumulation resulting from this specific deal,” Chikumbu said.