The World Bank says it is not yet ready to fully re-engage Zimbabwe though it may provide nearly US$3 million to help rehabilitate the Southern African country's failing water and sanitation infrastructure.
World Bank Zimbabwe Manager Peter Nicholas told reporters in Washington on Thursday that the institution cannot start funding major projects in Zimbabwe until it catches up arrears on its outstanding debt of US$600 million.
Sources present at the briefing quoted Nicholas as saying US$2.7 million has been set aside for water and sanitation projects which are awaiting World Bank final approval.
His remarks came as Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Economic Planning Minister Tapiwa Mashakada met with a range of US and multilateral officials in Washington seeking funding for their strapped government. Western governments for the most part have declined to provide development assistance pending broader human rights and other reforms.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that Zimbabwe cannot access funds for major programs unless it clears arrears on its external debt of some US$6.7 billion.
Economic commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga said Biti and Mashakada will probably go home empty-handed.