SW Radio Africa (London)

8 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Parliament Recalled to Ratify Chinese Loan

On Tuesday parliament ratified a loan facility from the Export-Import bank of China.

Even the state media couldn't agree on the amount of the loan, with the ZBC saying it was for US$271 million and the Herald US$380 million.

A large part of the money is to rehabilitate Victoria Falls airport ahead of the UN World Tourism Assembly.

In April Finance Minister Tendai Biti had signed the agreement for this loan during the visit by the Chinese Vice Premier. Clearly government forgot that it doesn't look good if they just make arbitrary decisions on their own. They're supposed to be pretending that parliament has a role in decision making. The problem was that next month China was going to evaluate all its international deals and cancel any that had not been ratified.

So what to do, as parliament had adjourned?

The problem was easily resolved by the expensive decision to just recall parliament to rubber stamp this deal.

Minister Gorden Moyo, who was standing in for Tendai Biti, was surprised to come under fire from some fellow MDC legislators, with one of them querying why they were going through this pretence of ratification when Chinese contractors were already on site for the project.

Other MDC-T MPs said the minister had 'failed to respect the Legislature by bringing something that had already been consummated.' They also said they 'had not adequately studied the deal and their fears were that it sidelined locals even in small issues such as labour and raw materials.' They alleged that all the raw materials were going to be imported from China.

Marondera MDC-T MP Ian Kay said: "We are being asked to ratify something that we have not even seen. There is separation of powers and each State arm has its own duties and responsibilities. If the Executive is to perform our duties, what is there for us to do?"

ZANU PF legislators of course had none of these concerns, and the loans were duly rubber stamped and went through parliament - perpetrating the pretence that there is some kind of rule of law in Zimbabwe.

It is not clear why, in a situation like this, MDC MP's don't just get up and walk out, instead of being part of this pretence.

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