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NGO Says Zim Should Stop Servicing External Debt

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde recently sent a Staff Monitoring Programme team to Zimbabwe. (Photo/REUTERS/Larry Downing)
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) says the government should stop servicing the country's debt and prioritize service delivery until a proper debt audit for the southern African nation is done from the Ian Smith era to the present day.

ZIMCODD chairperson Joy Mabhenge says the government should not incorporate debt servicing in the budget that it is working on, adding the Zanu-PF government should for now prioritize improving the welfare of the general public.

Zimbabwe is currently struggling to service an estimated $10 billion debt owed to international lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), among others. This is in addition to the domestic debt that continues to grow by the day due to interest charges.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is busy trying to put together a budget, told an IMF delegation in Harare last week that the country needs financial support to boost the business sector, enabling the Zimbabwe to service its debt.

Mabhenge says Zimbabwe should conduct an audit of its debt from the Ian Smith era to date to establish if it is obligated to pay all of it.

Economic commentator Masimba Kuchera says it would be “very difficult” for Chinamasa to get any financial support as the IMF does not trust the Zimbabwe government.

Masimba Kuchera says for now the government will have to approach local companies, especially mining houses, for help in supporting its budget.

Chinamasa is expected to present his budget December after postponing it, ostensibly for consultations purposes with stakeholders.

Kuchera says the minister is having to deal with many competing interests that need funding from an empty pocket.