Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
PARLIAMENT yesterday ratified three protocols of a loan facility worth US$380 million from the Export-Import Bank of China.
The first protocol related to the rehabilitation of Victoria Falls International Airport to the tune of US$150 million.
The project, to be spearheaded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, was signed on April 5 this year.
It is part of Zimbabwe’s preparations for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly to be held in the resort town.
There was also a US$141 million loan facility from the same bank on the development and rehabilitation of municipal water and sewage treatment works for the City of Harare.
The third protocol related to an US$89 million loan facility on a medical equipment and supplies project.
Acting Finance Minister Gorden Moyo said the money was cheap because it attracted two percent interest per annum, while both management fee and commitment fee attracted 0,5 percent respectively.
Parliament had to be recalled to ratify the agreement as China will next month evaluate all its international deals and cancel those that had not been ratified, said Minister Moyo.
He however, came under fire from fellow MDC-T legislators for asking them to “rubber stamp” the three protocols.
The lawmakers took turns to castigate Minister Moyo, who was standing in for Minister Tendai Biti, for asking them to ratify the three protocols, when the contractors were already on site.
Minister Moyo, however, got support from Zanu-PF legislators who supported the protocol on a loan facility from Export-Import Bank of China that were eventually adopted.
MDC-T MPs said the minister had failed to respect the Legislature by bringing something that had already been consummated.
They said they had not adequately studied the deal as their fears were that it sidelined locals even in small issues such as labour and raw materials.
All these are imported from China, the legislators alleged.
Trouble started when Minister Moyo tabled a protocol relating to a US$150 million loan facility from the Chinese bank for the rehabilitation of the Victoria Falls International Airport.
He said it was important that Parliament ratified the loan facility because the country had no money to undertake such a multi-million project.
First to attack the minister was Magwegwe MP Mr Felix Sibanda (MDC-T) who questioned the need to ask for the adoption of the protocol when the contractor was already on site.
“The contractor is already on site and if I am to be hypothetical, what if Parliament does not approve this project,” asked Mr Sibanda.
Nkulumane MP, Thamsanqa Mahlangu (MDC-T) said the Executive was failing to respect the institution of Parliament.
Marondera MP, Mr Ian Kay (MDC-T) weighed in saying “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?”
Chitungwiza South MP Mr Misheck Shoko (MDC-T) said it was not fair to ask legislators to approve a document whose contents they had not studied.
“I believe that it is sad that if, as MPs, we are being stampeded to ratify an agreement, simply because we don’t have money as a country. We must have seen this document last week and see what is it’s implication to the people of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Shoko.
“It is not us who are going to repay this money but our children.”
In response, Minister Moyo said the Chinese government would next month evaluate their international agreements and would rescind all deals that had not been ratified.
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe MP Cde Simba Mudarikwa said it was important to ratify the facility.
“The minister has done it on our behalf, we have confidence in him. For the sake of progress let us ratify this project,” said Cde Mudarikwa.
Gokwe MP Cde Dorothy Mangami echoed similar sentiments.
Minister Moyo eventually acknowledged the concerns raised.
“I humbly take the blame and appreciate the accolades from those who have supported the project,” he said.