ZIMBABWE is set to miss out on the Covid-19 debt relief specifically set aside by the European Union for African countries because of its bad debtor tag.
In separate interviews this week, players in the economic sector and political experts said there was very little opportunity for the country to benefit from the funding, which is aimed at mitigating the effects of Covid-19.
The EU and the US slapped sanctions on the country after the late former president Robert Mugabe embarked on the land reform programme, which saw over 4 000 white commercial farmers driven off their land.
“The EU is committed to furthering international debt relief efforts for African countries. The Council today approved a set of conclusions in response to a call from the European Council of 15-16 October 2020 to prepare a common approach in this respect. The conclusions highlight the increasing debt vulnerability in low income countries, particularly in Africa, and underscore the EU’s support for a coordinated international approach on debt relief efforts for African countries,” read part of the EU statement.
“The Council welcomes the G20-Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offers a temporary debt moratorium to the poorest countries to help them manage the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and its extension until 30 June 2021 with the possibility of a further extension by six months. It commits to a full and transparent implementation of this initiative…”
However, political analyst Alexander Rusero said the country would not benefit from the debt relief as it is being used as a whip to warn other countries to behave or fall in the same predicament which the country is in.
“So there’s no desire at all by the EU and any respective State in the North, America included, for Zimbabwe to prosper, for Zimbabwe to navigate the current economic quagmire that it finds itself in. Precisely because of the policy attached and with regard to land, It’s very clear, we don’t have to be very ideological or academic about that. Zimbabwe is not going to benefit in any way from that respective cushion of debt relief that has been set aside by the EU,” Rusero said.
Human rights activist Okay Machisa, however, said the country should be given a chance as Covid-19 was not selective.
He said if the EU selectively leaves out Zimbabwe from the debt relief that would be a recipe for a Covid-19 catastrophe in the whole Sadc region.
“If we are left out as Zimbabwe, the spill overs and the impact will be felt across the region, probably the whole continent , so it’s important for Zimbabwe to be given a chance. I do think conditions have to be there, to be put for each member state to be very responsible and adhere to norms and standards of how to manage resources when they are given those resources,” he said.
Professor Austin Chakaodza said although Zimbabwe has a poor record of servicing its debts especially with members of the Paris Club and the high level of corruption in the country, it should be included in the debt relief programme approved by the EU.
“This is largely because of the consideration that should be given to the majority of the Zimbabwe people. The latter are the ones who stand to benefit from the debt relief since Covid-19 does not discriminate between poor and rich countries. However, if there are any monies involved in the debt relief management, then only NGOs should be involved in this programme. No government officials should be involved in the programme for obvious corruption reasons,” Chakaodza said.