Zim passes bill to take over $1.3bn debt from Central bank

Reports say the debt was run up during the countrys economic crisis before 2009.

FILE: Capital of Zimbabe, Harare. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

HARARE Zimbabwes Parliament has voted for a bill that will see the government taking over a staggering $1.3 billion debt owed by the Central Bank.

The debt was run up during the countrys economic crisis before 2009 and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) are vehemently opposed to the government taking it over.

When it went to the vote Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs were outnumbered when the bill was passed by 115 to 37 votes.

MDC official Eddie Cross says Zanu-PF members were the beneficiaries of generous programmes run by the central bank, which included the purchase of $200 million worth of farm machinery.

He says his party may approach the Constitutional Court to challenge the passing of the bill, which now has to go through the upper house of Parliament.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwes state-owned electricity distribution company said its considering selling $1 billion in debt owed to it by defaulting customers.

A sluggish economic performance this year, marked by company closures and job losses has seen more people struggle to settle their utility bills.

We are thinking of selling our debt at a discounted rate, Julian Chinembiri, the power firms managing director, said.

Our customers owe us $1billion. We need to negotiate selling the debt so that we can get our money early, he said without giving further details.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) purchases power from the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and sells it to customers.

To improve revenue collection, ZETDC is in the process of installing pre-paid metres forcing customers to pay for electricity before they use it, Chinembiri said.

On Monday ZPC said it was generating 1082 megawatts of electricity compared to 801 MW last week after shutting the Hwange plant due to technical faults.