FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube will this weekend leave for London where he is expected to brief the British government which has emerged as a playmaker in Harare’s pursuit of a new debt repayment strategy, ahead of the crucial International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings on Friday in Bali, Indonesia.
Andrew Kunambura/Kuda Chideme/Nyasha Chingono
In London, Ncube will attend the Financial Times’ Africa Summit and line up a series of meetings with British officials who are expected to give input on Zimbabwe’s roadmap.
The Bali meetings are a make-or-break for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government which is seeking to normalise relations with international lenders and Western governments which had isolated the country for defaulting on loans and failing to uphold human rights under former president Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa has pledged to turn a new leaf from the disastrous Mugabe era and integrate the country into the community of nations.
In an interview, Ncube told the Zimbabwe Independent that he was confident of support from creditors for his plan which will build on the Lima strategy approved in 2015, although he said the road ahead was tough.
Under the Lima Plan, which was endorsed three years ago, Zimbabwe only managed to pay its obligations to the IMF.
“The strategy builds on it (Lima); it’s a continuation on it. It’s a steeple chase, it is just that you can run and encounter a barrier but you keep on running. We are building on it because it’s the same relationship, same partners, so we are ready to do that,” Ncube said. “It is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and there are so many hurdles. We are determined and the wonderful thing is that we have support globally from our partners on this journey. It is not going to be easy; it’s not a quick fix.”
Asked how his engagement programme was received during his trip to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly where the Zimbabwe delegation also took the opportunity to engage investors and other stakeholders, Ncube said there was a sense of optimism despite the existence of sanctions.
“Certainly, they are supportive but we know that we have got Zidera and other things so we have to work on those things. All that will contribute to creating an environment for a successful arrears clearance programme,” he said.
“I will represent Zimbabwe in the meetings as a governor, in those two institutions for the business that they do as IFIs. But what we want as government is to be able to present our economic reforms that are part of the strategy for the arrears clearance programme. The idea is to engage with these creditors so that we get back on a sustainable roadmap of clearing the arrears and open the gates for new credit facilities that we so need desperately,” said Ncube.
Zidera bars American citizens who sit on boards of international financial institutions from authorising credit to Zimbabwe.
The European Union (EU) bloc has also maintained its position that financial support to Zimbabwe could only be availed once they notice real progression towards institutionalisation of democracy in the country.