Debt talks useful opportunity: US
THE United States says Zimbabwe’s ongoing dialogue with multilateral and bilateral creditors, which is currently being facilitated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, provides a window of opportunity to help normalise relations between Washington and Harare.
With a total consolidated debt of US$17.5 billion, Zimbabwe owes international creditors US$14.04 billion, with domestic debt pegged at US$3.4 billion. Debt owed to bilateral creditors is estimated at US$5.75 billion, while multilateral creditors are owed an estimated US$2.5 billion.
Robert Scott, a career member of the senior foreign service with the rank of minister counsellor, currently serves as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs covering peace and security affairs and southern Africa, told The NewsHawks on the sidelines of a Press briefing that the dialogue will aid Zimbabwe in embracing political and economic governance critical for re-engagement with the international community.
“Our embassy here is also participating in the current AfDB debt arrears process which is potentially a very powerful tool for the governments to engage and it is also a powerful tool for civil society and other organisations to be part of a process which will be fundamentally important for the economy to re-engage, to re-open to international lending, to bring in options and opportunities to basically create more space for businesses and investors to come in,” Scott says.
“So it has a very positive potential and it is also as broad, a selection of actors in this country as possible engaged in this process. The commitment so far from the AfDB president (Akinumwi) Adesina, from the special envoy president Chissano are positive and obviously we will engage with them.
“It also so happens that many of the goals of the AfDB process also goes with the United States engagement in this country. So opening of political space, a creation of an economy that has many options available to it so that the people of this country benefit is something that we join in in as far as the US goes.”
Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted during the Second Structured Dialogue Platform Meeting on the Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution Process that Zimbabwe’s debt overhang is weighing heavily on the economy, as the country cannot borrow from multilateral institutions because of its failure to honour obligations.
The US diplomat, who previously served as the deputy chief of mission in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, said he met Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs minister Frederick Shava and expressed Washington’s concerns over the Public Voluntary Organisation Bill which is currently awaiting presidential assent.
Civil society organisations and some Western governments have warned that if signed into law, the Bill will narrow Zimbabwe’s democratic space and water down the country’s political reform agenda.