Zimbabwe still far short of $10bn in aid

HARARE – ZIMBABWE, which is looking for $10bn to finance its economic recovery plan and urgently needs $2bn of that sum, has to date secured only $400m from African states.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) had undertaken to raise the $2bn by now, with SA and Botswana pledging credit lines and budget support of $800m and $70m respectively.

The funding to date, which includes $200m from SADC and another $200m from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, is intended to meet urgent working capital requirements for local companies, but is a drop in the ocean of need.

Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube has said African countries had committed to providing the credit lines to companies in Zimbabwe.

SADC’s self-imposed deadline to raise $2bn in emergency funding for Zimbabwe, which was decided on at a recent summit in Swaziland, expired two weeks ago.

Most states involved say they need more time to consult.

Western donors, including from the US and the European Union (EU), were expected to contribute the bulk of the $10bn for reconstruction and investment, but have so far declined, citing a lack of progress in urgent political and economic reforms. Donors are insisting benchmarks be met before helping Zimbabwe. They include the restoration of the rule of law, property rights, human rights and broad democratic changes.

They fear if money is given directly to the government while President Robert Mugabe rules it could disappear.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti was in Washington for key meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank at the weekend, but was unable to secure funds because of concerns over lack of reforms and the numerous financial restrictions imposed on Harare.

The IMF said Harare first needed to clear its arrears and implement measures that would end sanctions if it wanted assistance. But Zimbabwe cannot pay any of its debts without such assistance.

Biti is heading to Europe to lobby for funding but is likely to be rebuffed in London.

Donors have cited continuing farm invasions, the arrest and prosecution of farmers, detention of political activists, political disputes between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai , and a lack of significant change in the economic and political environment as reasons for refusing to release funds.

Donors have proposed stop-gap help via the World Bank’s Multi Donor Trust Fund and the United Nations until relations between Harare and the world thaw. Business Day