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Parliament wary of US$1bn IMF windfall.

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VINCENT MHENE

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, and Economic Development is concerned that corrupt government officials could dip their fingers into the closed US$1bn cash windfall from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Business Times can report.

Zimbabwe, which received US$961m in special drawing rights from the Bretton Woods institution, part of US$650bn to member states, is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries according to Transparency International, ranking 157 out of 180 countries in the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Chairperson of the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Committee, Matthew Nyashanu, who spoke on 98.4FM Midlands’s current affairs programme, said corruption was a huge threat to the disbursement and utilisation of the funding.

“The major risk which citizens might want to hear is to do with corruption, as an issue which as a nation we are facing and we want to deal with. It is not something anyone wants but it`s a vice that we are facing as a country,” Nyashanu said.

He said corrupt officials could be angling to flout procurement regulations through awarding tenders in exchange for kick-backs.

“The issue of public procurement is obviously related to corruption which we must, as parliament, on behalf of citizens ensure that we reduce or eliminate,” Nyashanu said.

A Social and Economic Justice Ambassador with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, Masimba Manyanya said the funds should reach the intended target. He said Zimbabwe has a record of poor public finance management practices, mainly relating to corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

“We want funds that are intended for social protection to reach their targets. We have very clear cases of lack of transparency and lack of clarity when it comes to social protection. We (Zimbabwe) have a history and reputation of stealing public funds and widespread corruption. There should be transparency and social justice when we have large sums of money going into the public coffers,” Manyanya said.

He added: “We have two ways of dealing with this problem. “In the medium-term, we use the electoral process to replace corrupt leaders with people we believe have an affinity for what is right. In the short term, we have the parliament, civil society, and the legal route.”

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube recently said he is in a three-member team involving Treasury permanent secretary George Guvamatanga and central bank chief John Mangudya that will oversee the disbursement of the funds. The team reports to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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