Fruitful trip as creditors embrace repayment plan
Herbert Zharare and Africa Moyo in SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt
A number of development partners and creditors have embraced Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process, with some expressing interest to work with Harare on various development programmes for the country to regain its footing after being burdened by debt and devastated by sanctions for a long time.
This came out during the highly successful and oversubscribed roundtable meeting on Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process held here on Wednesday evening.
The meeting was a side event during the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual general meetings that started on Monday and will end today.
AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Champion of Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process, facilitated the organisation of the meeting with creditors and development partners.
President Mnangagwa appointed Dr Adesina as Champion of the process, and is working with former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, the High-Level facilitator.
President Mnangagwa, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano and Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube join hands at the Roundtable on Zimbabwe Debt Arrears Clearance meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
The two luminaries have since engaged most of the creditors and development partners, culminating in Wednesday night’s engagement, which was the fifth meeting since they came in.
Before the interventions, President Mnangagwa had delivered a keynote address that focused on the measures being put in place by his administration to restore macro-economic fundamentals, reboot key economic sectors such as the agriculture to ensure food security, and dealing with corruption.
The President also promised to ensure free, fair and credible harmonised elections in August this year, which is one of the 16 indicators crucial to the success of the debt and arrears resolution programme.
Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the Word Bank, European Union, SADC, civil society and development partners, attended the meeting, whose venue had to be changed to accommodate scores of people who wanted to listen to the important discussion.
So interactive was the meeting that attendees kept making contributions, resulting in the event being the last one to conclude well after 8pm, at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Centre.
Contributing to the dialogue, Mr Willie Nakunyada, Executive Director for Zimbabwe at the IMF, said the executive board meeting held on March 15, welcomed the progress Harare has made to exit the grey list.
He urged the Government to continue consolidating the gains made so far and ensure financial integrity.
The President meets SADC Executive Secretary Elias Mpedi Magosi at his hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh Resort City.
Mr Nakunyada said the IMF executive directors also keenly await the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) request in line with the first pillar of the three pillars: an approach that anchors the reform efforts called by the structured dialogue platform.
“The executive directors are looking at this structured dialogue as the lasting solution and amicable way to unlock international capital and unleash the country’s growth potential.
“So, the fund awaits the move by Zimbabwean authorities to see how they can support this process going forward,” said Mr Nakunyada.
World Bank director for regional integration for Sub-Sahara Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Ms Boutheina Guermazi, saluted Zimbabwe for advancing the dialogue platform as part of arrears clearance and debt resolution.
“It is encouraging to see the open and encouraging dialogue that the Government has, with the international partners, (and) civil society organisations on its re-engagement.
“The World Bank remains committed to support Zimbabwe in reforms agreed through the dialogue process. We are happy to contribute to the economic reforms working group and provide knowledge and advisory services, in key development areas. We are mobilising resources through the multi-donor platform and other global funds to contribute towards building capacity.
“We want to see Zimbabwe’s accelerating economic growth, with human capital and abundant natural resources,” said Ms Guermazi.
President Mnangagwa and his Egyptian counterpart President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (left) flanked by African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki (right) at the AfDB annual meeting.
United Kingdom representative at the meeting, Mr Phil Stevens, who is also acting director International Financial Institutions Department, congratulated Zimbabwe for working with President Chissano and Dr Adesina to create an institutionalised structured dialogue to solve the country’s debt and arrears.
“The improved dialogue is already building trust. The UK remains committed to engaging in the process in good faith.
“The UK welcomes the inclusive approach and it’s important to keep all players, civil society, political parties and private sector involved.
“We are sure this will be a multi-lateral process with all creditors involved,” said Mr Stevens.
He said the UK welcomed the reforms being implemented by the Government, adding that they support the internationally monitored outcome indicators.
It is the achievements of the indicators that will achieve arrears clearance rather than mere plans, he noted.
Mr Stevens said delivering free and fair elections was central to all efforts being made, adding Britain looks forward to being part of the arrears clearance process.
Mr Edward Kallon, the UN resident representative in Zimbabwe, said Harare has huge potential in Southern Africa and could contribute for the emancipation of the region if given the chance to “reproduce itself”.
“I had to fly from the United States straight to Sharm El-Sheikh for the purpose of this process. When my brother (Dr Adesina) spoke, he captured the critical ingredients of the dialogue,” said Mr Kallon.
President Mnangagwa and his Egyptian counterpart President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (third from right) join other head of states and delegates pose for a group photo at the AfDB annual meeting.
He said he called for the lifting of illegal sanctions imposed on Harare at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo in April, but was advised that his position was premature.
But Mr Kallon reiterated the position of the UN that the sanctions on Zimbabwe were not endorsed by the world body, adding that a stifled country will never deliver its goal of national economic development.
“For the past six months, Your Excellency, I have been pushing the United Nations to see whatever we can do so that the voice of Zimbabwe is louder and louder.
“The structured dialogue needs a step-by-step approach to try and find solutions of key challenges of Zimbabwe. We are so happy that this process is going on. To Dr Adesina, we are watching you and you should deliver what you are talking about in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Nicholas Radin, Switzerland Alternate Governor at the AfDB, said they were involved in the process in Harare through their embassy, adding that his country was keen to support Zimbabwe through the whole process.
“We are co-chairing the group on land issue and we are available and we are very proud of what is happening in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Radin.
SADC Executive Secretary His Excellency Mr Elias Magosi said the regional bloc has been with Zimbabwe “through and through”.
He said SADC has made statements every October 25, calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
He also hailed the dialogue process saying it was the only way to solving challenges.
“You can’t solve any problem until you sit down to solve it. We commend President Mnangagwa for this development. Zimbabwe is one of us. As SADC we will walk with Zimbabwe,” said His Excellency Magosi.
He added that SADC plays a key role in delivering elections in the region and this year, they have four elections including in Zimbabwe, where the SADC Observer Mission would be deployed.
His Excellency Magosi said they will ensure the elections are free and fair.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa General Secretary Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe, also commended the dialogue process, and expressed hope that it would be successful.
US Assistant Treasury Secretary Mr Erick Meyer confirmed that they have punitive sanctions against Zimbabwe, aimed at making the economy scream.
“I know president Adesina mentioned ZIDERA (imposed by) the United States. That Act does bind us in opposing lending from international financial institutions and until definitely certain criteria under ZIDERA are made,” he said.
Mr Meyer said some of the issues relate to the rule of law, free and fair elections, pre-election conditions, and the land reform.
Delegates follow proceedings at the AfDB annual meeting at the Capital Hall in Sharm El-Sheikh Resort City, Egypt.
The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe following the Land Reform Programme and is one of the few countries and institutions maintaining the devilish sanctions so as to punish the economy and make the citizens turn against the ruling Zanu PF in elections.
Since year 2000, the US plan to smuggle the opposition into State House has failed dismally, and a fresh attempt is brewing in the build up to the August harmonised elections.
Some commentators have alleged that the US actively participates in manipulating Zimbabwe’s currency towards every election with the hope of causing price increases and consequently a protest vote against Zanu PF.
However, the Government has put in place measures to defend the currency, and stabilise prices, including through allowing duty-free imports of basic goods.
Meanwhile President Mnangagwa and his delegations returned home yesterday and was received by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and senior Government officials.