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International Monetary Fund meets CZI, ZCTU

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week met with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZC

TU) before rounding up its fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

The four-member team left for Washington on Tuesday this week. CZI acting chief executive officer Farai Zizhou refused to comment on the meeting and referred all inquiries to Pattison Sithole, the organisation’s president. Sithole also refused to comment saying details of the meeting were confidential.

“We did meet them on Wednesday last week,” he said. “But some things are better not made public for the good of the nation. I cannot say anything on the meeting at the moment.”

Sources who attended the meeting said one of the IMF’s concerns was whether policies put in place by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to protect industries “were bearing any result”.

The IMF spokesperson in Zimbabwe Gita Bhatt said the visit was meant to assess the effectiveness of government’s economic turnaround programme.

“The purpose of the visit was to undertake a technical update of developments in Zimbabwe and the government’s agenda,” she said.

“The mission will report back to the IMF management and its executive board.”

ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe also confirmed meeting the delegation.

He could however not be drawn into disclosing what they had discussed citing confidentiality.

The ZCTU met the delegation on Friday last week.

The IMF also met with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The opposition pleaded with the delegation not to suspend Zimbabwe as a member of the Bretton Woods institution.

Last year, the IMF suspended Zimbabwe’s voting rights. The IMF board is set to review Zimbabwe’s membership in January.

The IMF report on Zimbabwe will be used by the board in determining the country’s fate next month.

The IMF board’s review next year is meant to decide Zimbabwe’s further participation as a member of the international global lending institution, which is now worried about the failure to settle debts on time.

However, even if Zimbabwe is spared the expulsion, this does not mean the country will be able to borrow from the IMF to cover its widening balance of payments gap.

According to figures from the IMF, Zimbabwe’s debt has declined from a peak of US$301 million in December last year to US$185,84 million.

On July 7, the IMF concluded its Article IV consultations with Zimbabwe. Under the Article IV agreement, IMF staff visit the country, collect economic and financial information and discuss with officials the country’s economic development and policies.

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