PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s new administration has been urged to beg for debt forgiveness from the West as the country seeks to stimulate growth in the coming 12 months.
Njabulo Ncube in Victoria Falls
Zimbabwe’s external debt is estimated at over $10 billion.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa came back empty-handed after meetings with officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month.
Chinamasa told Members of Parliament attending the pre-budget summit that he had productive engagements last month with the two Bretton Woods institutions over rescheduling of Zimbabwe’s debt, but was told that there was no way the West would cancel the country’s long outstanding arrears.
But, Gift Chimanikire, theMDC-T legislator and former Deputy Mines minister said Zimbabwe should swallow its pride and beg the West to cancel the arrears.
“We should ask for debt forgiveness. It has happened elsewhere, why not Zimbabwe?” Chimanikire said, much to the delight of the more than 300 legislators from Zanu and the two MDC formations.
He added: “But this needs diplomacy.”
Chinamasa chipped in, saying he would continue engaging the West, particularly the Bretton Woods institution as the country seeks to deal with its foreign debts.
He disclosed that an IMF team would be in Harare tomorrow.
“I am encouraged by the engagement although they told me Zimbabwe does not qualify for debt forgiveness. Zimbabwe has no capacity to pay its foreign debts, but we will continue engaging,” he said.
The pre-budget conference ended yesterday.