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Minister Biti: Save Conservancy Invasion Irks IMF, ADB

Tendai Biti
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has expressed serious concern over the chaos at the Save Valley Conservancy saying it has the potential to scuttle Zimbabwe’s chances of getting debt forgiveness from the Mnternational Monetary Fund (IMF), and the African Development Bank and other interntional finance institutions.

Senior Zanu PF officials, war vet veterans and army generals last month invaded the money-spinning safari landholdings in the treasured conservancy, the largest private wildlife sanctuary in the world.

President Robert Mugabe, cabinet and the Zanu PF politibuto have tried to intervene but the invaders remain defiant.

Those who were handed leases at Save Valley Conservancy include war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba; Major General Gibson Mashingaidze; Major General Engelbert Rugeje; Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke; Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke and Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge.

In its annual review of the Zimbabwean ecoomy, the IMF said Zimbabwe’s debt which stands at $10.7 billion remains a major impediment for the country’s economic turn-around.

It said the large debt overhang remains a serious stumbling block to medium-term fiscal and external sustainability.

“The external position remained precaurious, albeit with some recent moderation in the current account deficit and despite higher exports, the current account defiint widened to 36 percent of GDP in 2011 from 29 percent of GDP in 2010 due to in part to a spike in imports associated with some one-off factors,” said the IMF.

The IMF said it projects that the country’s economy will slow down to 5 percent this year after growing by 9.6 percent in 2010 and 9.4 in 2011.

According to the IMF the slow down reflects the impact of the adverse weather conditions on agriculture, erratic electricity supply and tight liquidity conditions.

“Mining production is expected to benefit from the lifting of restrictions on diamond exports from the Marange fields as a result of certification by the Kimberley process. Inflation slowed down to 4 percent in June 2012 from 4.9 percent in December 2011, reflecting in part some moderation in imported goods inflation,” said the IMF.

The IMF met last Friday to discuss the debt situation amid indications three countries - Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe - as at the end of June this year, owed the international financial institution special drawing rights worth over a total of $2 billion in overdue arrears.

Biti said Harare’s chances of debt forgiveness were high before what “the madness started at the Save Conservancy.”
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Environment Minister Francis Nhema said that Harare is trying to bring order to the conservancy.
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Economist Rejoice Ngwenya of Liberal Market Solutions noted that Zimbabwe is always committing mistakes at the wrong time and as a result the invasion of the conservancy will spell doom to the country’s attempts of reviving its economy.
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