Parliament will this week begin public consultations on the introduction of bond notes set to be unveiled tomorrow, but this would be a waste of time and money.
Comment: The Standard Editor
The government has already made the point that people’s views would not alter its strategy to introduce the surrogate currency as a way of addressing the long-running cash shortages as announced yesterday that bond notes will start circulating tomorrow.
Initially, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa wanted the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill to be fast-tracked, but changed tact last week and asked that the proposed legislation should go through normal parliamentary and public consultation processes.
If the Bill had been fast-tracked as Chinamasa wanted, it would have been a violation of the Constitution as Parliament cannot enact laws without conducting a public outreach programme on any proposed legislation.
Chinamasa’s proposed law seeks to amend the country’s banking laws to make the bond notes and the bond coins introduced two years ago legal tender.
The introduction of bond notes is already facing legal challenges from many fronts as Zimbabweans are generally sceptical of the government’s intention in introducing the currency, which it claims would be at par with the United States dollar.
Last month, President Robert Mugabe used the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to try and clear legal hurdles over the introduction of the bond notes, much to the chagrin of constitutional experts who said the law used by the president contravened the Constitution.
There is no doubt that the public consultations were never part of the government’s plan and the intention was to railroad the Bill through Parliament where Zanu PF enjoys a two thirds majority without any regard to what Zimbabweans felt about the currency.
Citizens are generally opposed to the introduction of bond notes because they are still smarting from the death of the Zimbabwe dollar, which was abandoned in 2009 due to hyperinflation.
Several protests have been held across the country since Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya announced the introduction of the bond notes in May.
The government has been arrogant, dismissing those opposed to the surrogate currency as unpatriotic.
It is against that background that the public hearings should be viewed as some sort of deception by a government that believes in imposing things on the electorate all the time in violation of the Constitution.
The government is just going through the motions so that it appears as if it is complying with the law.
However, Chinamasa must be warned that this arrogance will come back to haunt him as ordinary people would have the final say on the future of the bond notes.
As we have warned the government before, a currency can only be sustained through confidence it inspires on the market.
The government has to, as a matter of necessity, ensure that it is on the same page with the rest of Zimbabweans on the currency reforms.
Last minute public consultations would not help to sell the bond notes to a sceptical population.