By Mary Taruvinga
A HARARE lawyer, who is also a disability rights activist has approached the High Court demanding to know the total amount of debt that Zimbabwe owes to internal and external creditors.
The activist, Abraham Mateta wants the information to be made public arguing that it is unlawful for government to hide the information from the citizens who are the taxpayers.
The lawyer cited Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, the accountant general and the secretary responsible for finance, and the paymaster as respondents.
According to court papers, since 1980, Zimbabwe has been borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international institutions.
“The challenges bemoaning this country as far as it relates to debt stems from the failure to abide by the laws that mandate transparency and accountability to the public in managing the country’s resources,” Mateta said.
“The fact that certain information relating to public accounts is shrouded in mystery has undermined the right to access information.”
According to Mateta, it was disheartening that Finance Minister Ncube seemed confused on the whole debt issue.
He said the confusion was reflected in terms of the variance in the 2019 budget statement and the 2019 budget estimates.
“The lack of publication by the first respondent (Ncube) also means that I, as a citizen of Zimbabwe, am saddled by loans that I will need to repay of which I have no idea when and how they were incurred. As I have stated above, over 70% of Zimbabwe’s known loan obligation is in interest.
“The first respondent has failed to publish the information as directed by the Constitution and I have every reason to believe that he will fail to do so again unless compelled to do so by a court,” he argued.
Mateta said the Public Accounts Committee recommended Ncube should publish loans and guarantees.
“It is almost a year after the report was made and still the first respondent has not complied with the recommendation,” he submitted in his court papers.
The matter is yet to be heard.