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IMF Board Takes Up Zimbabwe Case As Harare Seeks to Restore Standing

The International Monetary Fund board on Monday examined the case of Zimbabwe based on a report from an IMF team that visited the country in March for so-called Article IV consultations on the state of the economy and government policies.

A report issued by that team said more than 70 percent of Zimbabweans are still in need of food aid amid an "uncertain" economic outlook for the country. It says Zimbabwe needs at least $200 million in budgetary support and at least another $200 million for humanitarian relief in the areas of food aid, health, and education.

A statement from the board was awaited late Monday. But the panel seemed likely at least to put its stamp of approval on technical support for Zimbabwe, proposed by the top IMF official for Africa, as the country takes initial steps toward recovering full membership.

Zimbabwe's IMF voting rights were suspended in 2003 over the non-payment of arrears. The institution had cut off economic aid in 1999, citing a lack of political will to reform.

Zimbabwe owes some US$135 million in debt service arrears to the IMF.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that he doesn’t see Zimbabwe recovering its membership quite yet because it still has substantial arrears to the fund.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...