The late former Malawi president, Bingu Wa Mutharika benefited from the controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Farm Mechanisation Programme in 2007 at a time when the Zimbabwe’s economy was deteriorating and correspondence at hand reveals he never paid back the US$124,111.00 (MK91,221,585) loan the central bank gave him.
A report published by Zimbabwe’s Nehanda Radio claims that the RBZ in 2007 and 2008 ran a scheme with the purpose of supporting commercial farmers with a US$200 million worth of equipment being given to different civil and political players during the time. Mutharika was Malawian president from May 2004 until his death in April 2012.
According to the publication, UK based law lecturer and political commentator Dr Alex Magaisa published an exclusive list of beneficiaries of the RBZ Farm Mechanisation Programme who have not paid back the money they received and a foreign leader, Mutharika is also in the list.
“Apart from politicians and political referees, there are also many politically exposed persons (PEPs) who were beneficiaries of the Farm Mechanisation. Perhaps the most outstanding name is that of Bingu Wa Mutharika, the late former President of Malawi. He is listed as having been given a loan of US$124,111.00 in 2007 under the Farm Mechanisation Scheme. Apparently, Wa Mutharika was married to a Zimbabwean and had a farm in Zimbabwe.
“It’s one thing that a foreign leader got a loan from a national scheme, but an entirely different and more scandalous matter that he failed to repay his debt which was then offloaded onto the shoulders of poor Zimbabwean taxpayers,” Nehanda Radio quotes part of the report.
The report also revealed that in 2015, the government passed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Debt Assumption Act, a legislation that meant the State was taking over the debts of the RBZ including the Farm Mechanisation Debt.
“Some of the more enlightened members of society saw what was happening and protested that this was not fair. Why should the rest of poor Zimbabweans pay the debts incurred by a few elites who benefited under that scheme? At the very least, they wanted to know the identity of these beneficiaries. Prominent lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, wrote to the RBZ requesting the names of beneficiaries. However both the RBZ and the government refused to disclose the names,” further read the report.