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Zimbabwe Faces Reckoning at IMF, Pursues South African Loan

The International Monetary Fund executive board is meeting Friday to consider whether Zimbabwe should be obliged to withdraw its membership in the Fund or continue in its current status of suspension without voting rights.

The IMF suspended Zimbabwe in June 2003 after Harare failed to implement agreed-upon policies and fell behind on repaying its Fund debts.

Last week, though, Zimbabwe managed to pay $120 million towards its arrears of some $295 million, and might be coming up with another $50 million.

This leads observers to believe Harare is anxious to preserve even its marginal IMF member status, and even its opposition has rallied behind it on this point.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with a range of sources in Zimbabwean public life about the government’s effort.

While Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono delivers a last-ditch appeal before the IMF Executive Board, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa was believed to be pursuing talks with South Africa as to a financial bailout plan.

The leader of South Africa’s main opposition party said it remains unclear at this point whether Pretoria will make the much-discussed loan of several hundred million dollars. Democratic Alliance chief Tony Leon says no notice of such a transaction has been brought to South Africa’s parliament in keeping with constitutional requirements.

South African Trade Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said this week that Pretoria was ready conditionally to lend Zimbabwe $50 million to help it meet the IMF obligations.

Mr. Leon told Studio 7 reporter Carole Gombakomba that talks continue as to a larger loan that might be made under “uncertain unstated conditions.”

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