EDITORIAL COMMENT: Govt’s global re-engagement efforts noble

THE International Monetary Fund has commended Zimbabwe for moving forward with reform programmes to reignite the economy and the commitment to re-engage with multi-lateral financial institutions. The process to re-establish ties with international financiers is being implemented amid increasing economic and financial difficulties for Zimbabwe, demonstrating its unfettered resolve to be part of the global community.

At the conclusion of its latest visit to Zimbabwe over the last two weeks, which was part of the second review of the Staff Monitored Programme, the IMF commended Government for intensifying efforts to re-engage the institution. The IMF, a key global financial institution, said Government’s resolve in this regard is commendable. It said Government had moved forward with the reform programme, despite increasing economic and financial difficulties.

Moreover, Government has developed a proposal for a strategy to resolve Zimbabwe’s external arrears to the international financial institutions. We applaud the Government for being conscious of the need for engagement to advance its economic goals.

Government intends to seek support from creditors at a dedicated stakeholders meeting to be held on the sidelines of this year’s annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank scheduled for Lima, Peru, next month.

This is a positive step towards reintegrating and reopening the floodgates of international financial support, as it sends the right cues to investors who start sulking in terms of their dealings with IMF-condemned States and swallow hook, line and sinker everything the lender says.

During its latest visit, the IMF conducted an in-depth economic assessment of Zimbabwe before coming up with its positive commendation. This is evidence that the country can independently undertake reforms to correct flaws in the economy without external supervision.

During its consultations, the IMF met with Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, members of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Economic Development, other senior Government officials and representatives of the private sector, civil society and development partners to get a full context of the economic situation.

Among its findings were that Government has taken important steps to strengthen the financial sector, liberalise the labour market and plans to rationalise public expenditure and reduce public sector employment costs. Although more still needs to be done, Government should be praised for staying the course, which requires focus and determination in the trying times.

Commitment to the set targets will provide the much needed track record of a good global citizen in view of the fact that the IMF is a yardstick that potential investors and other nations use before dealing with any country. We are also aware that Government is dispatching a high level delegation to meet the Paris club creditors to seek accommodation on arrears.

It is heartening to note that the creditors have agreed to the meetings because they see Zimbabwe as an equal and worthy member of the international community which they can still re-engage and do business with. The creditors’ goodwill will help set a good reference for other international financiers. Zimbabwe can use that reference to access international capital markets. We have the muscle.

While we negotiate with the creditors, let us show that we have both political will and capacity to meet our obligations. What we require is breathing space. Debt rescheduling or waiver will assist Zimbabwe to regroup and perform just like any other successful nation. This will, for a while remove the debt burden and allow the economy to recover.

However, we are under no illusion that this latest commendation is an end in itself. More still needs to be done to stay the full course and achieve the objective of full re-engagement and reopening of financial assistance. It is the responsibility of Government to prepare thoroughly for the meetings in the three European countries and the Lima engagements.