HARARE, May 13 — Zimbabwe’s National Assembly has finally passed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Debt Assumption Bill despite strong resistance from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

The Bill will now be forwarded to Senate for further scrutiny and if passed will be transmitted to President Robert Mugabe to be signed into law. Passage of the proposed takeover of the central bank debt had to be decided through a vote as the opposition insisted that it would be unfair to have it passed in any other way.

In the end it was 115 MPs, mainly from the ruling Zanu PF, who voted for the Bill Tuesday while 37 from the MDC opposed the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill, which allows the government to take over the central bank debt of more than 1.3 billion US dollars as a means to, among others, free up its balance sheet and allow for its recapitalization to enable it discharge its functions effectively.

Passage of the Bill had stalled on several occasions as MDC MPs brought in a number of petitions in bid to have it thrown out but National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda, dismissed the bids on technicalities.

After the Bill passed, MDC legislator Nelson Chamisa said Parliament had violated its own rules arguing that MPs who benefited from the RBZ quasi fiscal activities should not have been allowed to vote for the Bill.

“This Bill is so important on matters of accountability,” he said. “There are members who benefited but have come here to vote for government to assume their debt.”

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa dismissed the opposition assertions on the implications of the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill. “It’s not what we are talking about here. What the MPs are raising is totally irrelevant to this Bill,” he said, adding that those who benefited would remain on the central bank books.

The MDC contends that some of the people who benefited from the central bank programs should repay their debt instead of having the government taking it over.