WASHINGTON DC —
Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is being diplomatic in saying Harare does not qualify for debt cancellation under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
Biti, who is a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Renewal Team, accused President Robert Mugabe’s government of failing to meet the IMF requirements to qualify under HIPIC by embarking on controversial economic policies. This, Biti said, has forced the IMF to shut out Harare.
He said Zimbabwe reneged on its agreement to qualify for HIPC.
IMF senior official in Harare, Domenico Fanizza, told a business breakfast in the country’s capital city Tuesday that Zimbabwe does not qualify for debt relief under the HIPC initiative because it is not poor enough.
But the new country representative said Wednesday the IMF is looking at a new flexible debt repayment schedule for the southern African nation.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in response to Fanizza’s remarks said Harare, saddled with a $10 billion debt, could take another route through working on debt rescheduling so that it gets access to new funding.
As all economic indicators are heading south in Harare, Chinamasa has sought to have Zimbabwe's debt cancelled or get more funding from the IMF. The organization has been reluctant to release fresh funds before Harare pays its debt.
The HIPC initiative was launched in 1996 by the IMF and World Bank, with the aim of ensuring that no poor country faces a debt burden it cannot manage. Since then, the international financial community, including multilateral organizations and governments, have worked together to reduce to sustainable levels the external debt burdens of the most heavily indebted poor countries.
A number of developing nations have benefitted from this initiative, these include, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, Afghanistan, Haiti, Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Senegal among others.