Ncube grilled over government bid to pass on debt burden to citizens

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWEANS based in the United Kingdom Monday took Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to task over his decision to impose a 2 percent tax on their overburdened compatriots back home while sparing powerful Zanu PF officials who contributed to the country’s high debt burden.

The newly appointed Treasury boss is in London for the Africa Summit and is also expected visit Bali, Indonesia to attend the International Monetary Fund’s meetings.

He appeared Chatham House where some Zimbabweans took time to grill the Minister on the Zimbabwean government’s destructive economic policies.

Ncube last week introduced a 2 percent tax on all electronic transfers which government says was an attempt to raise capital to clear its local and foreign debts.

However, after making a presentation on the Transitional Stabilisation Program, delegates, among them Zimbabweans concerned about political developments back home, did not spare him on the debt management strategy and apparent disregard for property rights.

“Why do you intend to make Zimbabweans pay the external debt yet there are people who benefitted from various programs with some even getting farming implements for free?” asked one Virginia Majuru while referring to former central bank governor Gideon Gono’s controversial farm mechanisation scheme which largely benefitted Zanu PF top politicians and their supporters 2007.

Another male delegate also asked the Minister on why the Zimbabwean government was not too keen on respecting property rights.

“I refer to the violence that took place on August 1 (2018) and the comments made by legal watchdog, Veritas stating that government has no respect for property rights which compromise your commitment towards economic recovery because these things are happening during your reign,” he said.

However, in his response, Ncube said that he had been in the country for a short period of time but highlighted that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was committed to adhering with the rule of law.

“The president is committed to abiding by the rule of law and respect on property rights and he has said this even in our reforms we are determined to do our best,” he said.

Ncube said that government’s plans to compensate white former farmers whose land was seized during the country’s chaotic land reform process in the past two decades was testimony of the Zanu PF led administration’s commitment to respecting property rights.

He said the current government will continue looking at concerns being raised as they were key to rebuilding the country’s battered economy.

Turning to complaints some top government officials were major contributors to the country’s high debt burden, Ncube said he had not seen any documentation detailing how the funds were spent but maintained that those who owed government should honour their obligations.

“Definitely there should be information somewhere and those who borrowed and spent must honor their debts,” he said.