Zimbabwe has been curiously been left out of an IMF debt relief programme for the Bank’s 25 ‘poorest and most vulnerable’ members.
These countries are deemed poor,vulnerable and unable to withstand the inevitable financial shock and burden to their economies resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The exclusion of Zimbabwe comes as a shock but not a surprise.
The Southern African nation has been religiously servicing and progressively reducing its arrears with the Bretton woods Institution as a way of normalizing relations which had somewhat frozen due to years of economic decline,non serving of loans and resultant debt acrual.
Relations between the country and the Bretton Woods lending institutions suffered a major breakdown in the early 2000s when Zimbabwe stubbornly embarked on its controversial land reform program.
This highly emotive programme saw Zimbabwe being slapped with a comprehensive regime of economic sanctions by the Western nations which include America and the EU block.
This action resulted in Zimbabwe losing its voting rights in the lending institutions and subsequent cessation of financial support.
For two decades Zimbabwe has groaned under the burden of Sanctions and International isolation which have seen the Southern African nation surviving from hand to mouth with an ever worsening balance of payment position.
It is therefore not a secret that Zimbabwe isone of the most vulnerable countries in the region if the state of healthcare delivery in the country is anything to go by.
This is a country which a few years ago struggled to contain a Cholera outbreak.
It is therefore shocking and unimaginable that a responsible world Institution such as the IMF would regard Zimbabwe as rich , developed and self sustaining nation which can respond sufficiently to this menacing worldwide pandemic.
This latest action is an indictment on the IMF’s conscience as an inconsiderate development partner to Africa and the developing world.
One is tempted to conclude that t is is an institution held hostage by the American government which stubbornly keeps the ZIDERA sanctions law in force despite Zimbabwe making notable strides towards both political and economic reforms.
One would expect that at a moment like this where the world is facing an unprecedented threat to the very survival of the human species, the world would unite for a noble cause until this threat is defeated.But alas some, regrettably, see an opportunity for grandstanding and politicking.
Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the following statement:
“Today, I am pleased to say that our Executive Board approved immediate debt service relief to 25 of the IMF’s member countries under the IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) as part of the Fund’s response to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts.
“The CCRT can currently provide about US$500 million in grant-based debt service relief, including the recent US$185 million pledge by the U.K. and US$100 million provided by Japan as immediately available resources. Others, including China and the Netherlands, are also stepping forward with important contributions. I urge other donors to help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our poorest member countries.”
The countries that will receive debt service relief today are: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, D.R., The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solo
mon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen.