Singaporean global commodities firm, Trafigura Group, has shot down reports that it has bailed out cash-strapped Zimbabwe with US$1,1 billion to pay off its arrears to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
In a statement to Voice of America’s Studio 7, Trafigura regional head of Corporate Affairs for Africa, Zohra McDoolley-Aimone, distanced the company from reports that it was involved in the Zimbabwe debt clearance plan.
“Trafigura Group is aware of reports in the Zimbabwean media suggesting the company has provided significant financing in support of the Zimbabwean government’s effort to repay debt arrears to the World Bank and the African Development Bank,” said McDoolley-Aimone.
McDoolley-Aimone added, “Trafigura is not involved in any discussions or funding activity related to the Government’s relations with the International Financial Institutions, but we do continue to engage with the appropriate authorities in support of our ongoing commercial business in the country.”
The Zimbabwe Independent quoted a statement from Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who recently attended World Bank Spring meetings in Washington, as confirming that Harare has secured funding to settle its arrears.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is pleased to announce that it has met all the conditions precedent to the repayment of debt arrears to the World Bank and the AfDB. This positive development comes after the country successfully settled its debt arrears to the IMF on October 20 2016,” Chinamasa said in a statement.
“The terms and conditions of the facilities that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have put in place to repay the debt arrears to the World Bank and AfDB have been scrutinised and adjudged by the affected IFIs and found to be reflective of current market conditions with financing terms similar to market transactions recently concluded by several sub-Saharan African countries during 2016 and 2017. It is on this basis that Zimbabwe can now proceed to repay its debt arrears.
“Clearance of debt arrears is expected to attract in the short-to-medium and long-term foreign and domestic investment, given perceptions of lower country risk, and would be expected to open the door to foreign finance inflows and possible debt treatment by the Paris Club and non-Paris Club bilateral creditors through an IMF financing programme.”
The independent newspaper though acknowledges that Chinamasa did not reveal the source of the funding but cited IFIs executives, who attended the IMF and World Bank Spring meetings in Washington DC, as citing Trafigura for allegedly bailing out Harare.