By Lynette Manzini
Harare East MP, Terence Mukupe has urged the country’s vocal activist groups to redirect their energies towards mobilising funds for citizens to attend public hearings during law formulation processes as opposed to street demonstrations.
This comes after the country has been witnessing countless anti-government protests the recent being one against the introduction of bond notes.
But during a Harare public hearing aimed at gauging citizen views on the proposed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill at the weekend, Mukupe said outspoken activist groups could do better through citizen based efforts.
“It is best for people to put resources into getting people here and have this room full of people so that they can speak officially to the bill and reject the bond notes, as opposed to putting resources in the media out there so that you put people in the street.
“It is useless to put people in the street, here (public hearing) is the place to come,” Mukupe said.
The Zanu PF legislator, who is also acting chair of parliament’s finance committee conducting the hearings, was responding to a speaker who had questioned the channels used by parliament to disseminate information concerning the events.
The majority of those who attended the public hearing rejected the bond notes, saying the government should suspend use of the pseudo currency which is already in use and instead, continue with the US dollar.
“The government of Zimbabwe should recognise that citizens are not subjects but should be respected and in that same spirit, the government must withdraw forthwith usage of the bond notes, not because we do not want the bond notes to function but because there is no confidence in the bond notes,” National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe chairperson Sten Zvorwadza said.
Other speakers also blamed alleged government inconsistency in their dissemination of the reasons why bond notes have been introduced which has resulted in distrust by the citizens.
The government has in the past been blamed for inconsistent policy pronouncements concerning the indigenisation law which saw the country’s finance and indigenisation ministers constantly clash over the controversial law.
This has seen citizens lose confidence in a government which has been blamed for failure to stick by orthodox economic management systems.
“Part of the panic has to do with information mismanagement by the government itself, not many people are sure about what government is trying to achieve with the bond notes,” said one Dominic Muntanga.
“Given the experiences we have gone through as a country a lot of citizens are very much uncertain and uncomfortable, because we have gone through an experience which we have lost lots of our monies.”
Others appreciated the introduction of the bond notes saying the country had become a “fishing pond” for United States dollars resulting in the prevailing liquidity crises in the country.
“Zimbabwe had now become the fishing pond of US dollars for foreigners which is why you see an influx of foreigners in the country; bond notes will force foreigners to follow proper business ethics whereby they will bank the money,” one other speaker said.
In the retail sector, leading South African supermarkets such as Pick ‘n’ Pay and Food Lovers Market opened a number of outlets during the multi currency era.
Government, through the central bank, introduced its first batch of bond notes beginning of this month amid strong resistance from the transacting public which still has fresh memories of the hyper inflationary period in 2008 during which savings and pensions were lost as authorities imposed a cap on bank withdrawals.
The weekend public hearing which was poorly attended, concluded the finance committee’s five day tour for soliciting views on the Bill, after which a report will be compiled and submitted to parliament. Radio VOP