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Sanctions choke Zimbabwe, says AfDB chief

by Staff reporter
26 Feb 2023 at 09:08hrs | Views
Economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States (US) and its Western allies remain the biggest impediment to the country's ability to clear its arrears and resolve its debt, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB)Dr Akinwumi Adesina has said.

Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Mail on the sidelines of last week's Second Structured Dialogue Platform meeting on the arrears clearance and debt resolution process, Dr Adesina said clearance of the arrears and resolution of the country's long-standing debt will propel the country to yesteryear heights of economic stability and enhanced job creation.

The Government is presently engaging its creditors in negotiations to implement an arrears clearance and debt resolution programme with parties to the talks meeting last week for a second round of discussions in Harare.

Following last week's high-level talks, working groups set up to craft a draft arrears clearance and debt resolution framework will convene two meetings over the next two months before the framework is tabled during the third round of high-level negotiations scheduled for May.

Dr Adesina said the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe must be the foundation of the programme, while parties to the negotiations have endorsed a three-pronged strategy to guide Zimbabwe through the arrears clearance and debt resolution programme.

The strategy entails implementation of economic reforms and recalibration of Zimbabwe's governance systems.

The country has also been asked to commit to compensation of white former commercial farmers for improvements made on farms and resolution of cases of farms covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) that were affected during the Land Reform Programme. Dr Adesina was appointed the country's arrears clearance and debt resolution champion last year.

"It is difficult to service a debt when you are under sanctions.So the key is to make sure that we get the sanctions lifted because sanctions affect how the country is viewed internationally," he said.

Sanctions were retrogressive, he said.

"They affect the country's risk profile; they affect people who want to put their money into the country because they do not know whether they will be able to take their money out.

"Sanctions affect whether they can get access to finance and resources at concessional rates from international financing institutions.

"So the critical thing is to have the sanctions removed and that is why we are doing everything we are doing to make sure that is the case."

He said resolution of the country's debt will put Zimbabwe in good stead to intensify the current embryonic economic growth.

Clearance of the country's arrears and resolution of its debt will help unlock affordable long-term financing required to build increased economic growth momentum.

"We are doing this because of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

"Take for example, kids that were born 23 years ago do not even know the Zimbabwe I lived in."

"I worked here for five years and it was a very prosperous country and it was a bread basket not only for the Southern region but for Africa."

He said back then the Zimbabwean economy created a lot of jobs and built world-class universities, schools and medical institutions.

"Everybody saw Zimbabwe as the jewel of Africa but this young generation did not see that," he added.

"They grew up in a very different environment, so that is why we are doing this.

"Failure is not an option!

"We are doing this so that Zimbabweans can have their country back; have a more prosperous nation that can create jobs and one in which Zimbabweans can return to knowing full well that it can create a lot more prosperity as in the past."

In a separate interview, former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, who is the high-level facilitator of the country's arrears clearance and debt resolution process, said the future of Zimbabwe's economy was tied to the arrears clearance programme.

"Zimbabwe has now demonstrated that it wants to reengage with the world and enhance its pace of development," he said.

"So the world must be interested in helping this happen because of a number of factors that include the importance of Zimbabwe to the world which I have already stated.

"I also believe that once the reengagement is done there will be efforts from various partners to raise the financial resources."

He said the third round of talks in May will set the stage for implementation of the programme.

Zimbabwe's total external public debt as at the end of September 2022 stood at US$14,435 billion including the US$5,632 billion bilateral debt.

Source - The Sunday Mail