HARARE East legislator Tendai Biti (MDC Alliance) on Thursday last week demanded that Finance minister Mthuli Ncube explain to Parliament where the country’s foreign currency has been going given that the country is facing serious electricity shortages with government blaming the crisis on forex shortages.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Biti gave a breakdown in the National Assembly of how foreign currency since 2018 and 2019 had been accounted for, revealing how millions of dollars were being spent on unspecified payments by government.
He said in 2018, $448 million was used to pay for unspecified items, and in 2019 $15,69 million was also used to pay for unspecified items when the country was grappling with serious electricity shortages.
“Between January and June 2018 – and these are figures from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Monetary Policy Statement of October – the country received through export surrender requirements of US$3,3 billion which is a lot of money in US dollars,” Biti said.
“Of that 15%, which is around $570m was used to import diesel, 8% was used to import unleaded petrol, $111m which is 3% was used to pay for energy, 2% or $64m was used to import soya beans, $62m was used to import rice which is 61%, which totals $2,47 billion, and then $448m was used to pay for ‘others’ which has not been described and we want to know what ‘others’ stands for,” he said.
For 2019, Biti continued: “Between January and February 2019, we received foreign currency worth $707m and of that money 17% or $120m went to diesel, $66m went to unleaded fuel, 1,6% or $11,9m went towards road tractors, $10,7m or 1,5% went to wheat, and there were many 1% (one percents) that went to different items including $6,7m for insecticides and other products that were not specified gobbled $15,69m which is almost 60% of the foreign currency.”
Biti then demanded that Ncube must explain to Parliament what the items described as others were because the country has no energy and yet foreign currency was going towards unspecified items.
Meanwhile, Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) moved a motion that Labour minister Sekai Nzenza be charged with contempt of Parliament charges for refusing to table before Parliament the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) forensic audit which implicated former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira in financial impropriety.