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Economists: Weed Out Corruption to Clear Zim External Debt

Economic experts say Zimbabwe can only clear its foreign debt if the government manages to stamp out corruption and increases production in the agricultural sector as well as introduce value addition on agricultural produce.

On the other hand, authorities are urging international money lending institutions to cancel the country’s debt.

Zimbabwe has been failing to re-pay its foreign debt for several years now owing to the poor performance of the country’s economy but economic experts say corruption must be stamped out to allow the country to harness all financial resources into the national fiscus and enable authorities to repay the country’s debt.

Acting director of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), Hopewell Gumbo, says Zimbabwe is awash with resources but corruption, especially in the diamond sector, must be dealt with.

At the same time, former chief economist in the finance ministry and co-author of the book “Zimbabwe’s Plunge”, Masimba Manyanya, says Harare should consider value addition in its agricultural produce to enable the country’s economy to gain more money from external sales of its products that will be channeled towards debt repayment.

Gumbo says the country’s debt crisis is being worsened by the mismanagement of borrowed funds by authorities.

Manyanya adds that the debt question is being compounded by the fact that it is still unclear which amounts of money should be repaid to international lending institutions as some of the lines of credit were extended to Zimbabwe during the lifespan of the Ian Smith administration.

For his part, President Robert Mugabe has often called for zero-tolerance on graft but Gumbo says there is no political will to deal with the corruption scourge.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced during his 2014 budget presentation before parliament Wednesday, noting that Zimbabwe’s actual debt at $6.1 billion exceeds the country’s 2014 budget announced by $2 billion.

The minister called on institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary to cancel Zimbabwe’s debt because the government cannot afford to clear its arrears.

Studio 7 failed to get a comment from the international money lending institutions over Zimbabwe’s plea.