President Mnangagwa on Wednesday addressed the Roundtable on Zimbabwe Debt Arrears Clearance Meeting at the African Development Bank Group’s 2023 Annual Meetings, in the Egyptian coastal town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
The President’s address was structured around the three pillars of Economic Reform, Governance and Land Tenure System which recognises compensation of former white farmers for developments, and disentangling BIPPA properties affected by the Land Reform Programme.
According to Deputy Chief Secretary-Presidential Communications in the Office of the President of Zimbabwe, George Charamba, through his Twitter handle, President Mnangagwa’s address showcased the phenomenal ground Zimbabwe has covered without access to foreign funding and development assistance, “suggesting her growth is sure to gallop with a better disposed creditors attitude”.
“He (President Mnangagwa) identified growth spurts as coming from agriculture whose growth has enabled import substitution by way of food imports, mining, which has got a fillip from lithium, and tourism whose unprecedented growth now stretches our tourism facilities.”
Below is Deputy Chief Secretary Charamba’s full thread.
HE (President Mnangagwa) headlined the Manhize Steel Plant which makes Zimbabwe a continental factor in iron and steels production, over and above her lithium and platinum resources.
The President touched on social sectors, including health and Education 5.0, the latter emphasising heritage studies and science, technology and innovation to feed into manpower requirements for industry and commerce.
The President also took time to introduce the two Champions to Zimbabwe’s quest for Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution, namely, AfDB’s Dr Adesina and former President of Mozambique, Dr Joachim Chissano.
Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution would assist Zimbabwe secure support for social sectors and climate proofing. To date, Zimbabwe has been making token payments to creditor nations and organisations, as a show of commitment to servicing her debt. These payments have been taking place each yearly quarter.
The President thanked creditor nations and organisations for a positive disposition towards Zimbabwe initiative. The success of Clearance Programme rests on an IMF Staff Monitored Programme, peaceful, free and fair elections and commitment to settling farmer compensation and feeing of BIPPA properties. On elections, the President reconfirmed the country’s readiness for internationally monitored harmonised elections later in the year.
In his address, Arrears Clearance Champion, Dr Chissano, chronicled the history of the the five dialogues – including today’s – which Zimbabwe embarked on since December last year, amidst crippling sanctions and debt. He told the meeting that he accepted to play Champion because Zimbabwe is so dear to him, indeed has been since 1960s when he, alongside Zimbabwean cadres, fought for the Independence of both Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe became a focal point of SADC after her Independence, and remained so as the region battled apartheid. The former President played up Zimbabwe’s geographical centrality and mineral endowments, quite apart from its educated and hardworking citizenry.
Dr Chissano revealed that Zimbabwe’s geographic centrality meant a crippled Zimbabwe, for whatever reason, impacted negatively on the whole region.
He recalled a Shangani saying which says each thing requires a things for things to happen. Zimbabwe has begun doing something, and thus deserves a thing in return!!!!
Dialogue is the first gain of the process. This is gradually building towards consensus on what needs to be done in the three areas. Economic reforms are already embraced, as, too, are governance reforms.
President Chissano urged all political players in Zimbabwe to commit themselves to a peaceful poll, and to shun any foreign instigation so the country can open a new chapter.
He said the visits they have made to creditor nations showed that to the country and creditor, there is readiness to engage and hold dialogue towards resolution. He said only dialogue will resolve the current debt.
AfDB President Dr Adesina who lived and served in Zimbabwe as a Rockefeller Foundation represented, said he knows Zimbabwe’s potential and is confident Zimbabwe will take off rapidly once she gets support. He lamented the fact that children have been born into debilitating sanctions, and he only agreed to be champion for the sake of that encumbered generation. He also lamented that Zimbabwe is the only member country of the Bank under sanctions. The bank has helped African countries clear debts, including the Sudan.
The Zimbabwean Debt effort has greater chances of succeeding because it is inclusive. Govt supports it; creditors support it; farmers are behind it; civil society is also behind the effort. The reforms which Zimbabwe has committed itself to, added Dr Adesina, involved pain, which is why Zimbabwe needs a holding hand. 16 indicators have been developed by Zimbabwe’s development partners.
The champions also engaged the Americans on ZDERA. The Deputy US Treasury Secretary is in the room as a show of support by the United States Government.
South African Finance Minister and Board Member of AfDB stressed the integrated nature of SADC countries, principally Zimbabwe-South Africa, making any adverse developments in Zimbabwe inevitably have a spillover effect throughout SADC.
SADC Executive Secretary stressed SADC has stood by and continues to stand by Zimbabwe, including in observing elections. It was vitally important for dialogue to prevail and for a strong communication to be given to the entire people of Zimbabwe who have to appreciate difficulties which inevitably attend to the commitment Zimbabwe has made.
COMESA Executive Secretary, Madame Kapwepwe, weighed in to support the initiative on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a founder member of COMESA.
UNDP which chairs one of the pillars, stressed Zimbabwe was not under United Nations Sanctions, and needed to be freed from hamstringing sanctions. Zimbabwe needed a whole-of-government approach so she meets her commitment.