RBZ loses US$68 million in shady loans to councils, parastatals

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By Leopold Munhende

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last year lent out US$68 million to parastatals and councils without any supporting documentation and has no way to recover the funds, Parliament heard on Monday.

Committee on Public Accounts chairperson Tendai Biti Committee (PAC) left Paymaster General Daniel Muchemwa speechless after asking him to explain himself during Monday’s committee hearing in Harare.

Treasury chief principal director Zvinechimwe Churu’s attempts to sweep the issue under the carpet were dismissed by Biti.

“That is not our question, why would you give out US$68 million without supporting documents, without vouchers

“In other words, the authenticity of the allegations which you intend to put on councils is in question because there are no supporting documents,” said Biti.

“Where are the reconciliations because there are also discrepancies of over US$66 million, this is definitely a Muchemwa issue.”

Indications are that Muchemwa approved the release of the funds over the whole of 2018 in what could be another corruption scandal waiting to explode.

The RBZ is already at the centre of a US$400 million storm, disbursed to a funeral parlour for the supply of fertiliser meant for the opaque Command Agriculture scheme through which government reportedly lost billions in the past few years.

The scheme is the brainchild of President Emmerson Mnangagwa who brought it up during his tenure as Vice President after appointment by his predecessor Robert Mugabe in 2014.

Churu was forced to relieve himself of any responsibility to Muchemwa after Biti demanded receipts of the transactions.

Biti said RBZ officials who appeared before the committee had displayed ignorance, non-compliance and illegality in the Central Bank’s transactions.

Zimbabwe is losing billions of US dollars through corruption with Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo arguing that effects of the scourge are actually worse than those of western imposed sanctions which Mnangagwa’s government blames for the country’s ills.

Some top RBZ officials have in the past been accused of fueling the black market by flooding it with the local currency.