Felex Share Senior Reporter
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairman, Mr Bob Corker, who is pushing for the blockage of any new lending to Zimbabwe by multilateral financial institutions is out of sync with the true state of affairs in the country, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Minister Chinamasa said Mr Corker needed to be lectured on a wide range of issues affecting Zimbabwe, some of which he had used as the basis for denying Zimbabwe financial support.
Instead, the Finance Minister said, Mr Corker should get more information from the creditors who have been directly engaging Government in the past year and not to rely on hostile media reports.
Mr Corker wrote a letter to the US Treasury secretary Mr Jacob Lew last week, urging the US government to use its influence at the Bretton Woods institutions to block any new lending to Zimbabwe until the country met Washington’s preferred conditions.
The conditions included “restoration of the rule of law, electoral reforms, the reversal of land reform and security sector reform”.
Minister Chinamasa, who last year, presented a debt clearance strategy that was endorsed by the creditors, said it was surprising that the US was hardening its stance on Zimbabwe at a time the country was about to normalise relations with global lending institutions.
“It is very clear from his letter that there is a huge communication gap between us and the US Senate,” he said.
“It is very clear that Senator Corker is not aware of what is taking place here. He is not aware that there is political stability, there is rule of law here and where any rule of law is breached we have taken measures to correct it.”
He added: “He is not aware of the very free Press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly we enjoy in this country. He is not aware of Zimbabwe’s respect for private property. Senator Corker does not know that we have very satisfactory election conditions in our country and we have been holding by-elections without any failure or problems arising there from.” Zimbabwe owes the African Development Bank about $600 million, the World Bank over $1 billion and the International Monetary Fund about $120 million and intends to clear the arrears this year.
Minister Chinamasa said most of the conditions Senator Corker raised had been addressed.
“I hope that as he has written this letter he keeps an open mind with respect to the reality of the situation in Zimbabwe and should not be swayed by distorted information he receives about our country,” he said.
“He makes reference to equitable, legal and transparent land reform yet that’s basically what we have undertaken. It’s much more transparent and equitable than the land tenure system and ownership that existed before the land reform.”
He said on the alleged missing diamond revenue from the sale of diamonds raised by Mr Corker, Government was plugging leakages through consolidating all diamond mining firms.
“Any leakage is detrimental to our own fiscus and it’s an urgent matter for us to address,” he said.
“I believe there will be a visit by the Senate delegation from the US in the near future and we can take that opportunity to educate them on the true state of affairs and not what they read in a hostile international Press. His position is not that of the US Administration but of a Senator who is writing to influence the position of the US Administration such that when our issue comes for debate on the respective boards of the three multilateral institutions, the United States member votes against Zimbabwe. We have been engaging them at all levels that is the State Department and US Treasury department and briefing them about what we are doing in Zimbabwe which deserves their support also.”
He said the appointment of Harry Thomas Jnr as the new Washington representative in Harare would see Zimbabwe “now engaging further the US Administration officials through the official channels.”
“Whether or not the Administration will be influenced in the direction of Senator Corker time will tell but we will continue engaging them directly and I am sure they will communicate to us what their position is,” Minister Chinamasa said.