‘Zimbabwe debt crisis clocks US$18 billion’

Zimbabwe is now sitting on a deep-rooted social and economic crisis with its national debt; both domestic and external, ballooning to USD$18 billion due to a porous public finance management system and non-procedural loaning system, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) executive director Janet Zhou has said.

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) executive director Janet Zhou
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) executive director Janet Zhou

Giving her keynote address during the Media Training on the Debt Discourse in the capital, Zhou described the sharp rise in debt as worrisome with the government’s appetite on spending showing no signs of remorse.

“We have a national debt stock of close to USD$18 billion comprised of both domestic and external debt. Worrisome is the exponential rise in domestic debt within a short space of time raising a key question on debt transparency.

“Despite the intensity of the public debt crisis in the country, there is a gap in public debt reporting by both state-owned and private media.

“Zimbabwe has fallen from being the breadbasket of Africa to being an empty basket moving around the world with a begging bowl for loans, aid and unfavourable investments,” she said.

Zhou added that ZIMCODD is calling for an open debt audit as it is concerned and suspect that the huge amount of debt is illegitimate having avoided the parliamentary route as per the constitutional provisions.

“We are calling for a national debt audit to establish how we reached at 18 billion as a nation. We would want a very open debt audit with ordinary citizens given room to contribute towards this audit,” Zhou said.

ZIMCODD said the government has violated constitutional provisions as well as central bank statues that speak to limits of loaning system.

“Government’s loan contraction processes have violated Section 300 of the constitution which set the limits on state borrowings, public debt and state guarantees.

“Section 61 (a-b) of the Public Finance Management Act which stipulates that the aggregated amount that may be borrowed in any financial year shall not exceed 30 percent of the general government revenue in the previous year has always been violated,”

Early March this year, the parliamentary committee on public accounts chairperson and former finance minister Tendai Biti accused central bank boss John Mangudya of sidestepping the parliamentary route by issuing off debt applications, a constitutional violation that would have seen Mangudya sent packing in a normal functional state system.

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