BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it will speed up implementation of a Staff-Monitored Programme (SMP) with Zimbabwe in order to protect vulnerable communities in the wake of Cyclone Idai which left a trail of destruction mostly in the eastern parts of the country.
Last week, an IMF mission announced that it had reached an agreement with Harare on macro-economic policies and structural reforms that would underpin the SMP, an informal and flexible instrument for dialogue between the IMF and a member country on its economic policies. The country’s targets and policies are monitored and the programme is not
supported by the use of the fund’s financial resources.
Speaking at the IMF spring meetings, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said her team will be working with Zimbabwe to relieve pressure following the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai.
“We will be conducting a Staff-Monitoring Programme with Zimbabwe and it is particularly appropriate that we do that expeditiously, given the hardships and the loss caused by the recent cyclone and we will mobilise energy in order to support the authorities. I can assure you that on the principle of social protection of the most vulnerable of inclusion, we will be deploying the principles by which we now operate. As I have announced through the IMF, this morning, social protection framework is going to come up at the board in the next few weeks and we will certainly endeavour to deploy social protection principles in the work that we do with the authorities,” she said.
“The second point that I would like to mention, which I believe can and will help Zimbabwe as well given the current monitoring and currency situation – if used in a smart way,
I would hope that financial technologies can be deployed in order to include as many (people) as possible and any best practices we are aware of we will certainly make them available in the course of the weeks to come”.
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa was quick to dismiss the development, stressing that the country’s challenges were deep-seated and required major reforms. “They are bringing artificial answers to the deep-seated problems, they are not attacking the problem, the issue is about consistency of policy, confidence in the market, predictability, dealing with political and economic noise.
“Talking to the IMF is not enough. In fact, we don’t want a talk shop, we don’t want perpetual talking, we want action, we want things that are supposed to be delivered; it doesn’t matter how many times they talk to the IMF, they have been talking to the IMF for the past 20 years, but talking is not what is going to fix Zimbabwe,” Chamisa said.
Harare paid off its historical debt to the IMF in 2016 using its allocation of Special Drawing Rights, but it still owes the AfDB US$600 million and World Bank US$1,4 billion.