Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Gideon Gono, has defended the Assumption of Debt Act of 2015, by which the government assumed over US$1 billion of the bank’s debts.
Responding to a comment by British-based commentator Alex Magaisa on his Big Saturday Read (BSR) site, Gono said that RBZ Debt Assumption Act transferred $1.3 billion of RBZ debts to the Government, and everything was above board.
Magaisa’s BSR revealed that ruling party elites, some church leaders, and high-ranking judges failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars each under the Farm Mechanisation Programme, with the debt being imposed on the taxpayer.
Gono argued that the farm mechanisation programme was neither part of any of the amounts mentioned (US$200 million) nor did it feature as a take-over debt by the State in terms of that Act. He said:
This pioneering programme had, like any other new initiative, its own challenges here and there but overall, the programme ran smoothly and was above board.
Gono, however, admitted that the people who benefitted from the programme were initially required to pay back the money but the government had a change of heart later. Said Gono:
When in 2010 the RBZ sought guidance on the matter, there was a change of heart (that farmers had to repay) by the inclusive government who, through Cabinet minister Dr Joseph Made, advised, initially verbally but subsequently in writing, that Government (as in inclusive) had decided in 2012 to include the programme as part of its national mechanisation and irrigation and that was the end of the story.