To assist Zimbabwe in clearing its foreign arrears, Britain will help the country get on to an interim International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff programme. Settling the $1.8 billion in arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank, will be a major step in enabling Zimbabwe access foreign credit.
In an interview with Reuters, Britain’s ambassador to Harare, Catriona Laing said “we are here to give that support to try and encourage a process back to an IMF programme, perhaps through an interim staff monitoring programme as soon as possible”. She noted it will enable Zimbabwe start a serious dialogue around clearance of the arrears.
Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe’s finance minister said the government was still deciding whether to take the indebted poor country route or take a commercial deal to clear the arrears. The country started defaulting its foreign debt in 1999. In 2002, the West put sanctions on President Robert Mugabe’s government, which was acused of vote fraud and rights abuses.
Laing noted that while economic reforms such as reducing the country’s fiscal debt is important, Britain also wants Zimbabwe to carry out political reforms. This includes aligning the country’s laws to a 2013 constitution.
Britain’s ambassador concluded by saying “we will be tracking both pathways, the economic pathway and the political pathway. We want Zimbabwe to succeed”.