Broke Zimbabwe made a surprise move this week when it approached western governments for funding to mend the country’s crumbling economy. It would be the first time in over a decade the country will be plying this route.
President Robert Mugabe has maintained a hostile relationship with western countries, especially United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and United States have been sour in the past decade. He has been very critical of these nations for accusing him of violation of human rights and election rigging. However, a worsening economic situation locally—one that is edging the Southern African country closer to Bankruptcy—has forced the 91-year old’s government to reconsider their stand.
On Wednesday Zimbabwean government officials called for a meeting with Western ambassadors and official representatives from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) in the capital Harare to discuss direct budgetary support. “As we go forward and as we successfully build trust among ourselves, we can in future channel development assistance through the vote of credit (budget) so that we are able to plan more effectively and more efficiently,” Zimbabwe Finance, Minister Patrick Chinamasa, told the meeting that included diplomats from the United States and the European Union.
The EU has already extended a hand of support to the ailing economy. Earlier this year, it gave Zimbabwe 234 million euros after lifting sanctions in November, the first time the bloc has given cash to Mugabe’s government since imposing sanctions in 2002. Zimbabwe will hope for a similar response from the United States and Canada.
Prevailing harsh economic environment in Zimbabwe has left several companies doors closed, and kept thousands without a pay-check. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, about 4,000 workers lost their jobs in 2014, while Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said 4,600 companies closed down between 2011 and October 2014, resulting in 64,000 job losses.
Zimbabwe is one of the few developing countries that funds its budget entirely from taxes because it does not qualify for international credit due to a foreign debt of $9 billion. Local economist Eddie Cross said, unless something drastic happens, 2015 will be another year of economic decline in Zimbabwe as collapse of social institutions and further reduction in the delivery of essential services takes its toll on the economy.
By George Mpofu