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Zim yet to use US$1 billion from IMF 9 months later, amid economic crisis

Zimbabwe is yet to use close to US$1 billion allocated to the country under the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August last year.

Zimbabwe, among other IMF member countries, received their shares of the SDRs totalling about US$650 billion. The funds were a part of a worldwide Covid-19 relief package targeting developing countries.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said part of the money was earmarked for health, manufacturing, agriculture, education and mining.

But it is close to a year now, the money is said to be stuck with the treasury, Ncube is yet to go to the Parliament to get authorisation to use the money.

Outspoken Norton legislator Temba Mliswa asked leader of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi the whereabouts of the money.

“My question is directed to the Leader of Government Business. The SDRs that we received, we were informed that they would not be disbursed, if you recall, without the Minister of Finance and Economic Development coming to Parliament. I would like to find out from the Hon. Minister if the SDR has been disbursed,” he asked.

Ziyambi who is Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister responded confirming that the money was still held by the treasury awaiting authorisation by the Parliament.

“Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Mliswa is very correct that any disbursements must be authorised by Parliament. So the answer is, wait until the Minister comes for authorisation – unless you have a specific case that you know of which I may not be aware of.

“You can put it in writing and direct the question to him as to why there is expenditure outside what is required by law to happen. Ordinarily, when a draw-down is being done, Parliament must approve,” Ziyambi said.

Mliswa rose with a supplementary question asking “why they have not been disbursed when we have an economic crisis and the foreign currency is there”.

Ziyambi responded: “Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Hon. Member for the extra question which I believe that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, in his wisdom of how he disburses funds, will be able to come and update the House as to which foreign currency he has disbursed and whether he used that particular money and why he has done that.

“It is entirely not a policy question but an operational one to say that I am going to disburse this particular amount to this department as per the laws of our country.”

This comes at a time when the country is experiencing serious economic difficulties compounded by a financial crisis. The Zimbabwean dollar is continuing to fall against the US dollar.

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