Zimbabwe gets another credit line, plans bond

Zimbabwe has secured an additional credit line of $250-million from the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to help its economic reconstruction and plans to issue a bond by July, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Thursday.

The Southern African country’s new unity government, formed by rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has said it requires $8,3-billion to rebuild an economy shattered by years of hyper-inflation and contraction.

Although much of the funding is expected to come from sceptical Western donors, who have demanded more reforms from the new administration, Zimbabwean officials are also looking at raising about $1-billion from the African continent.

“The future will involve the bank committing to provide lines of credit to the tune of $250-million that will be used to support ... the gold and tobacco sectors as well as provide liquidity for banks and grain imports,” Biti told reporters after meeting Afrexim officials in Harare.

“The bank has also agreed to work with us to facilitate a diaspora bond, which will be open to Zimbabweans living abroad and other investors. We can’t give you the [issue] figure.
It’s a matter we are still discussing with the bank, but the bond should be floated by July 1,” Biti said.

Zimbabwe has already secured $400-million credit to revive its manufacturing sector from regional bloc the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) as well as neighbours South Africa and Botswana.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday its board had decided to partially lift the suspension of technical assistance to Zimbabwe and would provide help in targeted areas, starting from May 4.

The IMF said in a statement it would help Zimbabwe with tax policy and administration, payments systems, banking supervision and central banking governance.

Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan and South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu—members of a group of prominent figures known as The Elders—said on Thursday the group had written to donor countries and the European Commission urging them to respond more swiftly on aid to help stabilise Zimbabwe.

“The inclusive government needs more support to ensure that it can initiate the urgent stabilisation and early recovery programmes that the people so desperately need,” Tutu, chairperson of The Elders, said in a statement.

“Now is not the time for donors to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. This is the best chance Zimbabweans have had for peace and prosperity in decades.”

No special arrangements for Mugabe
Meanwhile, there would be no special security arrangements for Robert Mugabe at Jacob Zuma’s presidential inauguration on Saturday, the foreign affairs department said.

Security had been put in place to protect heads of state, but no special arrangement had been made for Mugabe, director general Ayanda Ntsaluba told a press briefing in Pretoria on Thursday.

Civil rights initiative AfriForum had put up posters reading “Mugabe go home” around the Union Buildings, in protest at his presence at the inauguration.

AfriForum chief executive officer Kallie Kriel said they were protesting against human rights violations in Zimbabwe. As such, Mugabe was not supposed to be on the guest list, he said.

Ntsaluba said preparations for the inauguration were going well.

“We are confident that everything that needs to be done has been done.”

Twenty-nine countries would be represented by heads of state, seven by their deputy presidents and 56 by their foreign ministers.

Former SADC heads of state had also been invited.

The 5 000 guests would be provided with umbrellas should it rain, and blankets if it was cold. The hour-long inauguration ceremony was expected to start at 11am. The president would then deliver a speech. - Reuters, Sapa

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