By Mugove Tafirenyika
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa were yesterday grilled in Parliament over bond notes-public hearings, which legislators say should have been done before the introduction of the surrogate currency.
This comes as the portfolio committee on Finance on Monday began public consultations on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Amendment Bill.
During yesterday’s national assembly question and answer session, Movement for Democratic Change members of Parliament (MPs) demanded to know whether it was still necessary and prudent for President Robert Mugabe’s government to “waste” taxpayers’ money on the hearings when the bonds notes were already in circulation.
“Is this not what is making government lose credibility when there is incoherence in policy pronouncement after Chinamasa told this House that he would wait, yet, we now hear that the bond notes are already in circulation at a time the committee is still gathering people’s views?” said Kuwadzana legislator Nelson Chamisa.
And Mnangagwa courted the ire of the MPs when he suggested if they were fed up with them they should wait for the next elections.
“That is why we hold elections every five years. If there are those that think the people have lost confidence in the government, (they) should wait for that time..,” said the VP.
Mnangagwa added that government had introduced the surrogate currency before the committee’s hearings “so that when (MPs) talk to the public, they will be talking about something they have in their possession”.
“Bond notes are legal tender, but those who don’t want them may not use them, they should use the currency they have faith in because we still use the US dollar,” he said.
But Chamisa accused the Midlands godfather of undermining opposition concerns.
“When we ask these questions, we will be serious and deserve to be respected but when a whole vice president trivialises these serious issues, he will force us to closely scrutinise him because this election issue he raises has its own challenges and there is a risk that some us of will embarrass him,” he warned.
Chinamasa explained the legal framework for bond notes which was dismissed by the MDC MPs who were led by their chief whip Innocent Gonese and Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya, in rejecting it.
“Clearly, MPs are reluctant to hear what I am saying, they are closing their minds and if they continue, it will be like a conversation among the deaf,” the Finance minister said.
“What is before the House is the RBZ Bill, let’s wait to hear what the views of the public are. Why are we now afraid of their views?
“We know that to the contrary, there is a clamour for more bond notes by the public.”
On Monday, the central bank unveiled the bond notes after an anxious five months, which were characterised by chaos and panic as ordinary Zimbabweans feared the apex bank was about to introduce the reviled Zimbabwe dollar via the back door.
However, the RBZ says the promissory note is there to incentivise local exporters, while complementing the multiple currencies currently in circulation and easing the liquidity problem. Daily News