Zimbabwe billionaire pleads with IMF, World Bank for humanitarian assistance

Strive Masiyiwa

Businessman Mr Strive Masiyiwa has appealed to the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral institutions for humanitarian support for Zimbabwe in the wake of the economic costs of controlling Covid-19 and the need to upgrade medical services.

Mr Masiyiwa is also seeking global financial support for Sudan, another African country under sanctions and so missing out on many global relief programmes.

To get around political disputes, he has proposed the creation of special purpose trust vehicles, humanitarian trusts under independent leadership, to channel humanitarian support and promised to personally contribute as an individual to any such trust for Zimbabwe.

He has been at the forefront, for several weeks, in asking for debt relief and economic impact stimulus on behalf of the African continent.

“In making these appeals, those of us who have called for these measures have used as our bench-marking measures that have been taken in the US, Europe, Asia, and China,” he said.

“So far, I am pleased that there has been growing support for these measures. At the last World Bank, IMF and G20 meetings, many African countries secured debt relief by way of ‘standstills’ on interest payments, which are valued at over US$22 billion.”

Over half of that money has been disbursed to countries in Africa, as it was sitting in debt service accounts.

The countries can now urgently buy medical equipment, personal protective equipment and ventilators. They can also train and pay doctors and nurses.

Mr Masiyiwa said two countries “were conspicuous in their omission from any form of relief: Zimbabwe and Sudan”.

“This is because they are under sanctions. I have not spoken to anyone in the governments of these countries, including that of Zimbabwe, with respect to this matter. I have no personal contact with the leaders of these governments,” he said.

Mr Masiyiwa said his appeal was not a request for the lifting of sanctions, but support for the countries to boost their economies.

Through their family foundation, Mr Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi continue to assist Zimbabweans, including preparations for the potentially catastrophic impact of Covid-19.

But, he said, since they are just private citizens, the support is not enough.

As it was critical for international support to come quickly, to address the needs of this pandemic, Mr Masiyiwa proposed the creation of special purpose trust vehicles, under the leadership of independent people, including global humanitarians.

“I would like to appeal to the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral institutions, to create humanitarian trusts for each country, which are managed by third parties, along the lines of the Global Fund.

“I have consulted widely with experts and many told me of numerous precedences, at the level of the UN, IMF, World Bank, the EU or even

the US government itself. The more countries that can contribute, even from China, and our African brothers, the more credible it would be, as global compassion towards the peoples of these very poor nations.

“I would urge them to consider seeding the trusts with at least $500m and inviting others including private philanthropy to participate. In the case of Zimbabwe, I will personally contribute in a trust and encourage friends and partners to do the same,” he said.

The money would be used to provide urgently required medical supplies, training and remuneration for health care workers. Mr Masiyiwa said the trusts could also provide urgently needed repairs to hospitals and rural clinics across the country. – Herald