Confusion surrounds govt source of US$100 million Covid-19 funds
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has been accused of not being clear on where he got the US$100 million to finance the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
While debating on the 2023 Budget in Parliament on Thursday, Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa accused Ncube of presenting conflicting statements about where he got the US$100 million for Covid-19 vaccines.
Mushoriwa said the Minister had claimed that the money was drawn from the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) allocation. But in other portfolios he would say that the money was extracted from the national budget.
“The Hon. Minister, when we were asking about the COVID virus and dualisation of Masvingo Road, he said that ‘zvakarongeka’. He was saying that he was using resources from the budget but check Mr. Speaker Sir, if you look in the SDR; he now claims that he used SDR funds to procure vaccines. He also claims that he used SDR funds to do the road to Masvingo,” Mushoriwa said.
“Mr. Speaker, you cannot have an Hon. Minister who comes and addresses this august House and say that no, we are funding our Covid-19 vaccines worth US$100 million from our own resources and he goes and does double dipping.
“Something is not clear or right and we have asked the Hon. Minister and the Ministry of Finance to come clean and simply say what he used. Remember the Hon. Minister would come here and say we used this from the surplus he got from the budget. That Mr. Speaker creates a problem.”
But the Minister dismissed Mushoriwa’s accusations saying that the Treasury was transparent in the disbursement of the money.
“On SDR usage, we have been very transparent on that. I am told but I will try to verify but I am happy to take the credit that we are the first country to produce an SDR Usage Report. No one else has done it and I presented it before this Parliament.
“It is very clear how we have used resources. We have been very transparent,” he said.
“We will put it up on our website as well. We have been transparent about this. On the issue of vaccines, Hon. Mushoriwa should be very happy that he was vaccinated. He should be so pleased, not whether I used SDRs or the budget.
“Akabaiwa and we have the resources to bring those vaccines and I do not know what his problem is. He should be so happy and smiling,” Ncube quipped.
Zimbabwe has so far withdrawn a whooping US$311 million from the SDRs with a huge chunk reportedly channeled towards procurement of Covid 19 related needs.
The money was drawn down from the equivalent of US$958 million extended by the Bretton Woods institution as part of the US$650 billion distributed to its members.