Citizens scoff at bond notes public hearings

Harare – (Mlondolozi Ndlovu) – Zimbabwean citizens have scorned the outreach process on a proposed bond notes law by parliament’s finance committee saying the hearings were a waste of time since the government has already introduced the notes.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Monday released $12 million worth of bond notes into the market, ending months of speculation over the introduction of the notes.

Meanwhile, the government has moved to enact the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill which paves way for the use of the notes as legal tender in Zimbabwe, which has been using different currencies since officially discarding its own currency 2009.

In line with the country’s law formulation processes, parliament has since dispatched its portfolio committee on finance and economic development to gauge citizens’ opinions on the new currency.

The meetings are being conducted countrywide and are set to end this weekend.

But residents said at one of the meetings that government was displaying arrogance by consulting them on something that has already been implemented.

“We don’t want you coming here to play trivial games with us; to say you are consulting when the bond notes have already been introduced,” said one ex-banker who identified himself as Kanengoni.

“You should take that nonsensical Bill of yours and throw it in the bin.”

Kanengoni said people were tired of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act that was used to impose bond notes last month.

President Robert Mugabe decreed that bond notes should be used but this triggered a number of court cases that questioned the legality of his actions.

Another resident, Enock Zivanai said it was also “nonsensical” to debate the usability of a currency that had already been imposed on the transacting public.

He said the consultations were tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.

Other residents said it was not true that the bond notes were trading at par with the Unites States dollar as the parallel market rate was totally different.

“It’s a lie that the bond notes are one is to one with US dollar, already they were trading at 100 bond notes to 70 US dollars,” former Midlands State University lecturer, Alois Matongo said.

Some residents claimed that black market cash traders already had “suitcases of bond notes” despite the weekly maximum withdrawals pegged at $150 per individual.

Edward Gwainda said some shops in the city were refusing to accept bond notes and suggested penal provisions in the Bill for those in defiance.

Harare East legislator and acting chairperson of the portfolio committee, Terence Mukupe denied allegations by the attendants that parliament took long to make consultations on the bond notes. He said MPs could only act when in possession of the Bill.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament on Wednesday the Presidential Powers proclamation was already enough basis for bond notes to circulate lawfully in the country.

He said the proposed law which is before parliament was only there to buttress what was already a strong legal basis for the use of bond notes.

This is after MDC-T MPs took the minister and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to task over what they said was contempt of parliament and the country’s laws to introduce a currency before bringing the relevant law to the house.