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NGOs Call For Audit of Zimbabwe Foreign Debt, Charging Misuse of Funds

  • Gibbs Dube
  • Tatenda Gumbo

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The Zimbabwe Europe Network, the Jubilee Debt Campaign Coalition and the European Network on Debt and Development said some development aid was misused in the 1990s by the then-ruling ZANU-PF party

International civic organizations say the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other global financial institutions should conduct an audit of Zimbabwe’s US$7 billion foreign debt, saying some development aid and loans secured by Zimbabwe in the 1990s were used by then-ruling ZANU-PF to fund oppressive political programs.

The Zimbabwe Europe Network, the Jubilee Debt Campaign Coalition and the European Network on Debt and Development said available evidence suggests at least part of a US$328 million British funding package was diverted by the party of President Robert Mugabe to buy police vehicles and military aircraft instead of funding development.

Tor Olsen, coordinator of the Zimbabwe Europe Network, said it appears the ZANU-PF government used part of the money secured from the World Bank for fraudulent tree-planting programs and buying fuel for ZANU-PF during elections.

In a report entitled "Uncovering Zimbabwe's Debt," the organizations said there are fears some newer loans and activities are not even fully captured in official statements.

Olsen told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo it is important for Zimbabweans to know how development aid and loans have been used since the 1990s.

But economist Eric Bloch said it would be impossible for every cent in aid spent since the 1990s to be fully accounted for without government cooperation.

Economic commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga opined that an audit of the US$7 billion debt would be a waste of time, saying there are so many other pressing issues that NGOs "should not spend precious time chasing such a hopeless agenda," Mhlanga said.

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