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Zimbabwe Increasingly Seeking Help Worldwide As Look East Policy Ruptures

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shake hands during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Aug. 25, 2014.

Zimbabwe in partnership with regional financiers, African Development Bank, on Thursday concluded a two-day inaugural experts meeting on inclusive growth, investment and poverty reduction.

Economic Planning Minister Obert Mpofu told Voice of America that engagement is key in resuscitating Zimbabwe’s ailing economy and the meetings were an eye opener.

“We are also as part of our deliberations through these engagements asking investors or potential investors to tell us what it is that makes them feel Zimbabwe is not attractive compared to other areas where they have invested in, and some are actually coming forward with very, very progressive views and they are giving precedencies elsewhere and we are dealing with those issues.”

Interview With Obert Mpofu
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Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the meeting Tuesday calling for more investor-friendly policies from the government.

Mnangagwa also said prospects for Harare are looking good as international financial institutions are showing a willingness to engage Harare.

But Director of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, Dr. Godfrey Kanyenze, says the new policy shift shows Harare’s reliance on Beijing has failed.

“I think we have had quite a long spell of isolation since 1999 when we accumulated arrears on our debt. We have been isolated from the international community and this has not helped the country because we have not been able to access concessionary lines of credit … no new lines of credit have been forthcoming into the country, we have been accessing whatever the little came into the country at very, very prohibitive interest rates.

“So, in essence Zimbabwe’s economy is on its knees, simply because we have been arrogant, we have been refusing all along to re-engage the international community. But where we have reached now, especially with the economy and the Look East Policy, where even the Chinese are also insisting that they cannot just throw good money after bad, they cannot give us money when everyone else knows we do not repay loans.”

Interview With Godfrey Kanyenze
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Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa admitted last year that China was exerting pressure on Harare to pay up its loans or risk being cut out.

Chinamasa told business leaders in Harare that Zimbabwe has had to pay millions of dollars to keep Chinese creditors at bay.

He said, “In the first six months of this year we have had to cough up $180 million, which was not in the budget, just to make ourselves look good.”

Zimbabwe’s external debt stands at about $10 billion and China alone is believed to have loaned Zimbabwe one billion dollars.

The United States of America imposed targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his top officials in 2001 for alleged human rights abuses.

Mr. Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe are also on the European Union targeted sanctions list.