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IMF Team Not Likely to Propose Zimbabwe Debt Forgiveness, Economists Say

Harare economist John Robertson said the IMF team conducting an Article IV review is likely to criticize the ongoing indigenization program and express concern about the increasingly tense political atmosphere

Zimbabweans should not expect the International Monetary Fund team now in the country conducting review of the economy and government policies to propose debt forgiveness, economists said Wednesday.

For some time, Zimbabwean government officials and business leaders have been hoping for debt relief for Zimbabwe under the so-called Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative or HIPC.

But economic insiders say the main purpose of the current visit is to examine how the country is managing its business and how the economy is faring. The last so-called Article IV consultations between the IMF and the government yielded criticism of the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe, which was found to have problems of governance and control.

Harare economist John Robertson told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that IMF experts this time around are likely to criticize the indigenization program and express concern about the increasingly tense political atmosphere.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe of making unilateral and consequently illegal appointments - among them Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, reappointed in late 2008 following the signature of the Global Political Agreement for power sharing. Mr. Mugabe recently said power sharing is not working so elections should be held in 2011, but Mr. Tsvangirai has said no poll can be held unless it is free, fair and peaceful.