HARARE,- Zimbabwe’s president said on Thursday that the government was committed to a plan to clear more than $6 billion of external debt arrears, including compensating former commercial white farmers and making token payments to creditors.
“Zimbabwe’s debt overhang continues to weigh down heavily on our development efforts,” Emmerson Mnangagwa said, as part of a meeting on the southern African country’s debt that was open to reporters. “We have no access to new lines of credit, including from the multilateral banks, such as the World Bank Group.”
Zimbabwe, which has suffered bouts of hyperinflation in the past 15 years, had more than $14 billion in external debt in September 2022. It has not received loans from the likes of the International Monetary Fund for more than two decades, due to its arrears.
Also expected to grace the occasion is former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano who will play the facilitation role and lead the dialogue on broad economic and governance issues constraining arrears clearance and debt resolution.
“Since arriving in Zimbabwe earlier this week, Chissano has been consulting with various stakeholders, including development partners, and representatives of the private sector and civil society.
“Luisa Diogo, former Prime Minister of Mozambique, is supporting the facilitator in her role as technical advisor. Championing the process is Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), who was invited to play this role by the Zimbabwean president in 2022,” a communiqué published ahead of the meeting revealed.
Adesina and his delegation touched base Wednesday afternoon ahead of the convention. He has since dedicated resources to help the authorities ensure a successful process.
The meeting follows an initial dialogue held in December 2022 involving the government and various stakeholders.
Official records have it that it was agreed at the Inaugural Structured Dialogue Platform meeting that the Strategic Working Groups would feed into the high level Structured Dialogue Platform meetings by producing matrices of reforms to be implemented as key elements of the arrears clearance and debt relief process being championed by AfDB.
According to the Finance Ministry, total external debt as at the end of September 2022 is estimated at US$14,04 billion including US$5,7 billion bilateral debt which is 41% of the total , US$2,6 billion multilateral debt representing 18,4% of the total debt.
The high level engagement comes at a time when monetary authorities back home have managed to ease inflationary pressures, relatively restored the Zim$ stability and confidence amid expectations that if the country manages to unlock international credit lines, a rebound in economic growth may see the light of the day.