By Tererai Karimakwenda
01 November 2012
Recent moves by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to ease economic restrictions placed on Zimbabwe over a decade ago, have been criticised by some observers who say that nothing has changed in the country to warrant that decision.
The IMF’s executive on Tuesday said they were easing the restrictions in order to allow its staff to advise the Zimbabwean government on economic reforms, and to monitor their implementation. According to reports the IMF stressed that no economic aid is involved.
Zimbabwe has failed to keep up with repayments on a $132 million loan which has been owing to the IMF since 2001. According to an IMF report for June 2012, the country is also in default on another $1.5 billion owed to the World Bank and African Development Bank.
“The decision basically lifts sanctions against engagement with Zimbabwe. It’s a major step towards Zimbabwe’s debt payment programme,” Biti told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday. He said eased restrictions should help the country clear its enormous debt and open it up to foreign investment.
But former diplomat and political analyst Clifford Mashiri dismissed the IMF and the Finance Minister, saying they are presenting a false image of what the country is really like in order to “normalise” a situation that is not normal. Mashiri told SW Radio Africa that the IMF move is “suspicious”.
Mashiri said he feared that the IMF and the unity government may be secretly negotiating other deals with the European Union (E.U.), in order to go for elections next year without implementing the reforms that they signed off to in the Global Political Agreement.
Mashiri said: “They want to tell us everything is okay when actually nothing has changed. The people are being brutalised by ZANU PF. Ordinary people are not happy with the way they are being treated by the military. But the MDC-T wants to give us the impression all is fine, all is normal.”
Luke Zunga from the Global Zim Forum agreed. He said there are games being played by the IMF and E.U. to give the impression that the unity government has made enough progress to allow the holding of free and fair elections in the country.