IMF head Dominique Strauss-Khan told reporters on Wednesday, after a two day visit to South Africa, that the group was interested in renewing its relationship with Zimbabwe. But Strauss Khan added that the political environment needs to change first to allow this relationship to happen.
“We are happy to help. We are ready to help, but… as long as the political situation will not make it possible to come back on track in terms of arrears and governance, it will be very difficult for us to come back,” Strauss-Kahn said.
His comments came after meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, who argued that financial aid should be resumed to Zimbabwe’s unity government. Zuma, as the regional mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis, has been lobbying for Western countries to resume giving aid to Zimbabwe, going as far as to call for the lifting of targeted sanctions, still in place on key individuals in the Robert Mugabe regime.
Zuma has faced serious criticism for this move, with observers commenting that he has adopted former mediator Thabo Mbeki’s destructive policy of “quiet diplomacy”.
Last week, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown resisted pressure from Zuma on the sanctions issue, declaring that more progress needs to be made by the unity government before the lifting of the targeted sanctions is considered. IMF chief Strauss-Kahn also rebuffed Zuma’s attempts to persuade a change on policy towards Zimbabwe by saying: “We are not yet at the point where resuming lending is possible.”
The IMF has already agreed to restore Zimbabwe’s voting rights, seven years after the country was suspended over its multi million dollar debt. But the Fund said the country was still ineligible for loans until it had paid off its US$1,3 billion debt.
In the meantime, Zimbabwe will once again be allowed to take part in IMF decision-making and voting, in a move which observers have said recognises the country’s efforts to repair the shattered economy. –– Africanews.