Zimbabwes slow economic recovery has largely been a result of reduced foreign direct investment due to our toxic political environment and the failure as a nation to retire our ballooning debt.
Our debt stands at $9,1 billion, 118% of our gross domestic product (GDP), and part of it is made up of $550 million to the Africa Development Bank, $1,5 billion to the World Bank and $3,3 billion to the Paris Club.
It is against this background that the government last week launched the Zimbabwe Accelerated Arrears Clearance, Debt and Development Strategy (ZAADDS) a move hailed by many as a panacea to retire the countrys debt to spur economic and social development. ZAADDS will cover the next 18 to 24 months and will be discussed with the countrys development partners.
It is a hybrid debt resolution strategy that includes the adoption of the traditional debt resolution initiatives, combined with leveraging of the countrys natural resources to achieve sustainable economic development.
The strategys main tenets include the establishment and operationalisation of a debt management office; undertaking a validation and reconciliation exercise of the external debt database; re-engagement with creditors and the international community for the removal of sanctions; negotiating for arrears clearance, new financing and comprehensive debt relief; and leveraging Zimbabwes natural resources in pursuit of debt relief and development.
Our debt profile and country risk ratings have been pathetic in the past decade and as a result, economic and social development remained stagnant as Zimbabwe failed to access multilateral lines of credit and suffered stunted foreign direct investment.
We agree with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that as a nation we cannot rehabilitate our infrastructure and move forward with socio-economic transformation reforms if the debt overhang challenge is not urgently resolved.
The inclusive government should commit itself to implement ZAADDS to resolve the debt overhang that has stalled the rapid implementation of the nations economic agenda.
The need for a concrete resolution of Zimbabwes external debt overhang in support of achieving objectives of the Millennium Development Goals and Medium Term Plan (2011-2015) targets, cannot, therefore, be over emphasised, President Robert Mugabe said in his foreword to the strategy.
There is an urgent need for the economy to achieve external debt sustainability through a comprehensive debt relief and arrears clearance programme, which is strongly supported by my government and all the development partners and creditors.
It is, therefore, encouraging that the inclusive government is speaking with one voice on this issue.
We hope they will act in unison.