Zimbabwe: African Development Bank boss agrees to help struggling Zim with debt – says people have suffered enough

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THE African Development Bank (AfDB) said it had agreed to help Zimbabwe’s $13.5 billion debt relief plan, in part because of the need to relieve the country’s citizens of the impact of extreme poverty.

The Southern African nation has appealed to AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina to help the nation clear its huge long-standing external debt arrears.

The continental bank chief arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday to begin his engagement process with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, senior government officials and envoys from G7 member states, among others.

Speaking to the media shortly after meeting Mnangagwa, the AfDB chief said that among other reasons that made him take on the role was empathy for the need to help poor citizens.

“I told President Mnangagwa it was the people of Zimbabwe. They have suffered long enough, you know two decades. When I look at the situation today, you have 49% of the population in the extreme poverty and that really needs to change with new hope,” he said.

Adesina appreciated Mnangagwa’s commitment to the arrears clearance process and the re-engagement of the international community.

“As President of the AfDB, I will contribute to this. I have spoken to him (in Mnangagwa) about five regions where I have a similar role. It is my duty and responsibility to do so because we have 54 countries members from Africa and Zimbabwe is one of them. So when one of them hurts, all the rest hurt,” he said.

He stressed that he accepted the role because Zimbabwe was a reliable shareholder in the bank, as evidenced by the payment of US$9.6 million made as part of the general capital increase despite the economic difficulties in the country.

“Zimbabwe has also continued to make token payments of around $700,000 a year to settle some of the outstanding debts.

“Third is the fact that I really believe it is time to reinvigorate and reinvigorate the economy here as it is essential for SADC. We are now talking about the African Continental Free Trade Area and of course Zimbabwe has to play a very big role,” he said.

The southern African nation has been involved in a number of external debt clearance strategies such as the Lima Plan agreed with global lenders in Peru in 2015, under which 15-year debt arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the amount of 108 million US dollars were erased. .

The efforts, however, did not encourage the Bretton Woods institution to release lines of credit for the beleaguered nation.

Zimbabwe also owes the World Bank, AfDB, European Investment Bank, Paris Club and other bilateral donors billions of US dollars.

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