Zimbabwe is a shareholder to regional and international financial institutions and as such will not be embarrassed to request funding from the organisations, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Minister Chinamasa who is presently in Britain, made the remarks during a BBC HARDtalk programme hosted by Zeinab Badawi who asked him whether it was not ironic that the Zimbabwe Government wanted finance facilities from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the majority of whose members are blamed for the country’s economic meltdown.
He is in that country to meet the Minister for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK, Mr James Duddridge and Mr Mark Lowcock, permanent secretary in the Department for International Development.
“Please get this clear, we are a shareholder in the World Bank, we are a shareholder in the African Development Bank and we are a shareholder in the IMF,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“Even with the African Development Bank, we are the largest shareholder in Southern Africa. So, all we are doing in the engagement is to try to enjoy the benefits of our membership, access to credit.
“Their rules provide as it turns out, that we can’t enjoy those benefits until we clear our arrears. So the engagement is about clearing our arrears so that we enjoy the benefits of our membership. And we are not embarrassed by that.”
Minister Chinamasa said there had been positive vibes from creditors as Zimbabwe seeks to clear its arrears.
“We had been working on an (IMF) Staff-Monitored Programme and we had been meeting our targets, qualitative and structural targets.
“The last targets we met were December last year and the IMF is reasonably happy with the way we’ve been running the project,” he said.
Zimbabwe owes the AfDB about $600 million, the IMF $120 million and the World Bank over $1 billion.
These creditors accepted the country’s debt clearance strategy in Lima, Peru last year.
Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe was in a unique situation because it used the US dollar for transactions, with the biggest challenge being that the country could not print the currency.
He said it was inevitable that using the US dollar for domestic financing was unsustainable.
Badawi claimed there was economic uncertainty in Zimbabwe as a result of political uncertainty given that President Mugabe was 92 years old yet there was no clear succession plan.
But Minister Chinamasa shot back: “Each country has a right to travel its own path in history and in the case of our President, yes he is 92, but you must also know the long path he has travelled almost since 1958 so he has definite views about the destiny of Zimbabwe.
“He remains in place to ensure that the trajectory he wants to set for Zimbabwe will be there even after he is gone. To be fair to us, Zanu-PF remains a very solid, cohesive, formidable political force in Zimbabwe and all the instability that you are talking about is not within our party.
“I’m saying as far as Zimbabweans are concerned, we are happy and as far as Zanu-PF is concerned, we are happy. Essentially, the President wants to leave this country on a trajectory, in terms of values and destiny which will not be reversible.
“And as far as Zanu-PF is concerned, we are saying anyone who wants to contest, must feel free and if the population agrees with them, of course it means the results will be otherwise. But we shouldn’t be dictated to when we choose our leader,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Badawi claimed the education and health sectors were in a mess because the Government had failed. But Minister Chinamasa said Government deserved credit for its socialist policies that sought to improve the lives of every Zimbabwean.
He said there were a lot of success stories that Zimbabwe scored contrary to the western media’s obsession with negativity.
“Since independence, we have spent millions of dollars into expansion of education, expansion of the health sector and I think we should be given credit for that.
“Something that wasn’t there before independence. People would go hungry before independence, they would not be fed. But only President Mugabe’s Government is able to undertake feeding of the entire population, something that couldn’t be done in the history of colonialism.
“There are good success stories. The fact that after this pounding, we’ve remained resilient and able to have any health system still worth talking about is good credit for us. It’s just that you’re not appreciating and accepting it,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said the country was coming out of a difficult economic environment as a result of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe after the land redistribution exercise.
Lack of access to credit made it difficult for the agricultural sector to thrive, he added. herald