JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was yesterday grilled in Parliament over whether the 2019 national budget, which was presented by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in United States dollars, had now been converted to the newly-introduced Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollars.

First to fire questions was Rushinga MP Tendai Nyabani (Zanu PF), who demanded clarity on government policy regarding multi-currency usage given that the RTGS$ and the US$ had different trading values.

In response, Ziyambi said: “We had a basket of multi-currencies like the US$, rand, pula and others, and now, we have introduced the RTGS$ through Statutory Instrument SI 133 of 2018 to increase on that multi-currency basket.”

Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF) then asked Ziyambi to further explain if the bond note was now the RTGS dollar?
“Technically, according to SI133 of 2018 the RTGS$ and bond notes are different, but both are trading currencies in our laws and so, practically, they are the same,”
Ziyambi responded.

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Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC Alliance) then asked: “In light of the explanation and the fact that now we have the RTGS$, yet the 2019 budget was presented in US$ and now the RTGS$ is trading on the basis of a floating exchange rate on the interbank rate, what does it mean in terms of figures to our budget, and to persons who deposited actual US$ in their accounts before introduction of the multi-currency (basket)?”

Ziyambi said all balances in the budget were converted to the RTGS$.

“So, what it means is that if the budget was US$10 million, it becomes RTGS$10 million; and there was a separation of accounts to nostro and RTGS$,” the Justice minister said.

“SI 133 of 2018 states that at the opening of trading, the RTGS$ will be equivalent to the US$, and then later, the rate will be determined by the market. So, if you had $10 000 and trading started when the US$ was weaker, then you have more money. SI 133 of 2018 says the RTGS$ will be 1:1, but when trading starts, then market forces will come into play.”

But Gonese said before the RTGS$ was introduced, some people had deposited real US dollars into their accounts and still want to withdraw them as US dollars.

“When the RTGS$ was introduced, it was 1:1 to the US$ and now market forces will determine what comes into play,” Ziyambi said.

Further asked by Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) whether government considered this to be morally right, Ziyambi replied: “Issues of law and morality are different. I explained SI 133 of 2018 and whether you want to look at it from the moral side or not, I am merely stating the law.”