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Zimbabwe Minister Seeking African Bank Debt Relief

Head of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka has not yet reacted to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa's appeal for debt relief.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has appealed to the African Development Bank (AfDB) to cancel the country’s $500 million debt saying this would help in jump-starting Zimbabwe’s ailing economy.

Chinamasa on Monday met a 10-member delegation of AfDB executives that is on a week-long visit in Harare and appealed for debt relief from the financial institution.

He said if the AfDB cancels the debt, other international money lending institutions were most likely to follow suit, adding this would help revive the country’s struggling economy.

“In our meeting I have emphasized that the African Development Bank should play a leading role in securing the clearance of our arrears which we have accumulated with the multi-lateral creditors. …. So, I have tried to appeal to the bank. I am aware that they have done it with respect to other countries. My appeal is that they should bend backwards to assist us so that we become part of the global economy,” he said.

AfDB executive director and head of the bank’s Zimbabwe mission, Alieu Momodou Ngum, would not say whether his institute would consider Zimbabwe’s request for debt relief.

The Harare administration has an external debt overhang of nearly $10 billion that the country has been failing to service.

In 2014, the International Monetary Fund spurned Harare’s request for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, saying Zimbabwe was not poor enough.

The HIPC initiative was used in countries like Zambia to settle its debt.

Meanwhile, the AfDB delegation is expected to tour all the projects funded by the bank during its mission.

The bank has funded the Lake Harvest fish farm project to the tune of $8 million and the project on the eastern shores of the Lake Kariba is being used as a model for sustainable development projects in Africa.

At the end of its mission, the AfDB delegation is expected to meet President Robert Mugabe before heading to Mozambique.

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