Zimbabwe Opposition MPs have warned Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa against politicising a $7,6 million line of credit from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) Fund, which was approved by Parliament yesterday.
This came out during debate in the National Assembly on a motion on a loan agreement between Zimbabwe and the Opec Fund for the line of credit to support cattle rearing, borehole drilling, honey production and other poverty alleviation projects in Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland North.
MPs were fearful the Zanu PF government would abuse the loan to fund political projects ahead of the 2018 elections.
“Chinamasa must put mechanisms to manage the money because we have seen abuses of other loan agreements in parastatals and tender procedures are not followed with board members being part of the system that benefit from projects,” Musikavanhu MP, Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-T) said.
“The money must not be used as a campaign mechanism by Zanu PF during in the build-up to the 2018 elections. I hope this money will improve the needs of communities that are poverty-stricken.”
Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) blasted government’s penchant for borrowing, saying it failed to account for $15 billion diamond money yet they were rushing to borrow $7,6 million.
“Government loses $15 billion to kleptocrats and thieves and yet we go to borrow $7 million and this does not help Zimbabwe because there is no guarantee that this theft is not going to be extended to the $7,6 million,” he said, adding the government must abandon reckless borrowing.
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Thokozani Khupe proposed that Matabeleland South province should benefit from the loan, as it was a dry region, with a huge population of poor people.
Fanny Chirisa (MDC-T Proportional Representation MP) said: “Women, children and the most vulnerable groups must benefit from the fund, and there must be clarity on what happens to defaulters at the end of the project cycle.”
Chinamasa said the $7,6 million loan agreement with Opec was a way of building a relationship with the institution, a development arm of oil-producing and exporting countries.
“We started with the $7,6 million loan, which is going to be a revolving fund so that we build a track record. We hope for a 100% loan recovery, but even if we do 90%, they will be happy. They will be giving us more funds, and we are soon to sign a $20 million loan fund with Opec to support irrigation schemes,” he said.
Chinamasa also told the House that a $3 million Arab Bank for Development in Africa loan agreement was still holed up in Sudan and had not yet been accessed, because the North African country was under sanctions.
The Finance minister said he was yet to report back to Parliament on the $21 million loan agreement for construction of schools because the funds were not yet accessible to Zimbabwe as a consultant was yet to be enlisted to monitor the projects.