ZANU PF legislators are reportedly inviting their MDC-T counterparts for private meetings in a bid to sweet-talk them to allow the passage of the Reserve Bank (Debt Assumption) Bill which among other things seeks to absolve resettled farmers from paying for agricultural implements they received from the central bank.
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Debate on the emotive Bill stalled in the National Assembly last week after opposition legislators threatened to block its passage through a court order, arguing that they could not be coerced to pass it before an audit.
Even efforts by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to railroad the $1,3 billion debt Bill hit a snag following fierce resistance from the opposition, forcing him to temporarily halt debate while seeking a political compromise.
Zanu PF insiders yesterday said the party was ready to engage the opposition to enable the Bill to pass and allow the technically-insolvent central bank to start on a clean slate.
“There will be some negotiations with the opposition behind the scenes to rescue the Bill which is now as good as dead since most Zanu PF parliamentarians are beneficiaries and thus will not be able to participate if the House is divided for a vote,” said a Zanu PF insider.
But MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese said his party would not be persuaded to pass the Bill before it has been put to audit.
“We still stand by our position to block the Bill and our demands that everyone who benefited from the $200 million farm mechanisation project should not participate in the voting of at the Third Reading of the proposed legislation,” Gonese said.
“In terms of the Priviledges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act Section 17 Chapter 2:8, it unequivocally states that anyone who has got a pecuniary interest is precluded from participating in the vote and unless we are furnished with information as to who the beneficiaries are, we cannot proceed because obviously if any voting takes place, those beneficiaries must be excluded from the proceedings,” Gonese argued.
Zanu PF chief whip Jorum Gumbo could not be reached for comment while Chinamasa’s mobile phone went unanswered.