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IMF Sends New Mission to Zimbabwe Amid Talk of Corporate Seizures

  • Gibbs Dube

The Zimbabwe National Statistical agency said the 12-month inflation rate slowed to 3 percent in February from 3.3 percent in January, with monthly inflation last month subsiding 0.9 percent in January

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Harare on Wednesday to begin routine economic consultations with the government and financial institutions amid threats from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF to seize foreign-owned firms.

Economists said the IMF team, conducting a so-called Article IV consultation, is expected to meet senior economic and Treasury officials, Reserve Bank representatives and financial institution executives for an update on the economy.

Talks were likely to focus on the nation's US$7 billion debt, sources said.

The delegation will meet with business leaders amid concerns ZANU-PF wants to seize companies whose parents are based in countries that are maintaining so-called targeted sanctions on President Mugabe and other ZANU-PF officials and supporters.

IMF officials are unlikely to be pleased by news that ZANU-PF has targeted Coca-Cola Bottlers, Nestlé Zimbabwe and banks with British parent companies.

Economist Daniel Ndlela said the IMF team will also discuss issues of governance with key stakeholders. “While focusing on fiscal issues, the delegation will obviously look into issues of governance and moves by one of the ruling parties to take over foreign-owned firms linked to Western nations,” the economist said.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe National Statistical agency said the 12-month inflation rate slowed to 3 percent in February from 3.3 percent in January. It said monthly inflation in February was 0.5 percent compared with 0.9 percent in January.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has forecast 2011 inflation of 4.5 percent with economic growth accelerating to a 9.3 percent expansion of gross domestic product.

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