DESPITE efforts by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, to mend relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), President Robert Mugabe continues to throw spanners into the
works by rubbishing the Washington-based multilateral financial institution.
Mugabe told visiting journalists from the Kenyan East African Standard last week that the IMF was useless in the reconstruction of the country’s ruined economy. Mugabe launched a scathing attack on the financial institution saying the country did not need the IMF as it takes steps to resolve its deepening economic troubles.
“I have no faith in them (IMF). We can do our own thing without the IMF and the rest,” said Mugabe.
“They come in with their balance of payments assistance, yes we need that at times. But their prescriptions, they are awful, believe me,” Mugabe told the Kenyan journalists.
Mugabe’s statements fly in the face of Gono’s pledge to cooperate fully and engage in sustained dialogue with the IMF. In his first quarter review of his monetary policy statement, Gono emphasised the need to embrace the IMF in his turnaround strategy for the economy.
He said it was imperative to “reengage the international community to lay a sound basis for the reestablishment of Zimbabwe’s relations with international creditors and other global business partners”.
Since 1999, until December last year, Zimbabwe has been failing to settle its overdue loan repayment to the IMF of US$290 million. As of February, Zimbabwe had repaid US$6 million and also promised to make small quarterly payments of US$1,5 million.
Mugabe’s broadsides could deal a blow to efforts by Gono to thaw relations between Zimbabwe and the IMF. Since his appointment in December last year, Gono has moved to court the IMF.
An IMF mission that was in the country last month promised to reexamine the huge arrears owed it by Zimbabwe in early July and welcomed steps taken by government to put its fiscal house in order.
The country desperately needs balance of payment support from the IMF but Mugabe continues to talk tough. In fact before the entrance of the new RBZ chief, Mugabe had told the IMF and the World Bank to “go to hell”.
Mugabe accuses the IMF of being responsible for the prolonged suffering currently bedevilling the country, now almost completely isolated from the international community.