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Harare Says IMF Now Tool of Countries Seeking 'Regime Change'

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said this week that the International Monetary Fund has become a tool of countries seeking regime change in Harare. His comments came amid disagreement between Zimbabwean and IMF officials over the timing of an IMF assessment mission that the Fund wants to schedule this month.

Web news provider ZimOnline quoted Murerwa as telling business leaders and others meeting in Bulawayo that the international financial institutions have applied a double standard to Zimbabwe. “I disagree that we should seek assistance from the IMF and the World Bank. We have paid our dues yet they have not supported us," he said.

Senior Finance Ministry sources said relations between Harare and the global lender of last resort have become more strained. Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, sent a stiff letter to the Fund and boycotted its annual meeting in Singapore last month.

Zimbabwean officials were also irritated at a public forecast from a Fund analyst that Zimbabwe’s 1,000%-plus inflation rate would soar to 4,000% in 2007.

The timing of the impending Article IV consultation is also an issue. Zimbabwe wants the IMF mission to come to Harare only after the IMF Executive Board has taken up Zimbabwe's status as a fund member when it meets in November. But IMF officials said they must assess conditions in the country before the board meets.

Murerewa’s attack Thursday on the IMF on echoed President Robert Mugabe's anti-IMF broadside before the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Consultant Peter Robinson said Harare would be ill-advised to alienate the IMF and try to go it alone. Economist James Jowa said the latest tiff shows that both Harare and the international financial community are frustrated with the deadlock.

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