Zimbabwean lawmakers Wednesday told an International Monetary Fund team visiting the country to assess the final phase of the Staff Monitored Program that the IMF is taking too long to normalize relations with Zimbabwe.
The parliamentarians said the country would be soon heading for elections to choose another government without any meaningful action from the multilateral institution. But the head of the IMF believes that Zimbabwe should first pay its huge debts before the IMF normalizes relations with the southern African nation.
Frustrated lawmakers from parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee, told the IMF team after it had briefed them on their mission that the Staff Monitored Program, which started in 2013 during the inclusive government era is taking too long and if nothing is done now, the country would start preparing for the next elections without any meaningful progress in normalizing relations with Zimbabwe.
Committee chairman, David Chapfika of Zanu PF there has been extensions to the program without any tangible benefits. “Can you tell us exactly whether on this one there is going to be any value derived from this or it’s something that we should forget about.”
Another lawmaker, Samson Mukanduri of Zanu PF, asked the IMF team to be flexible so that Zimbabwe can resume accessing financial assistance from the Bretton Woods institutions and other international organizations.
“We are not saying the Fund should pump money into Zimbabwe, you are not all that generous, we know you have conditions.”
But Domenica Fanizza said while Zimbabwe had made some progress in the Staff Monitored Program and had submitted its debt payment plan to the IMF in Lima, Peru last October, the organization cannot do anything unless Zimbabwe pays its debt.
“You have to pay back the arrears … Until Zimbabwe has paid back the arrears to the Fund to the World Bank and the African Development Bank, we cannot act.”
He added that it was also critical for Zimbabwe to build consensus from the international creditors who are key in the decisions of the IMF board. He said while the IMF mission can present a good report on Zimbabwe, nothing positive would come out if relations were not good with international creditors.
“It will be critical and essential to make sure that you have the support of the stakeholders. Otherwise even if the Fund staff says well look you have any ambitious program, we are happy, the board will not accept it.”
He said indications are that some the issues worrying international creditors were not related to debt but also to the land reform as spelt in the constitution. Fanizza said the sooner the country sorted this the better.
Former treasury chief economist, Masimba Manyanya, told Studio 7 the lawmakers’ frustrations were understandable.
He said while Zimbabwe’s pace meeting some Staff Monitored Program targets is been commendable though nothing is noticeable on the ground hence the frustrations by lawmakers and ordinary people.
He said if anything, things could get worse because what is simply happening now is restructuring the economy to prepare it to receive investment in future.
But both Manyanya and Fanizza agreed that there is no other way for Zimbabwe except the root that the country has taken.
An IMF team is in Zimbabwe for two weeks to assess the Staff Monitored Program and make further consultations and will present its report to the IMF board meeting in May.