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Learn from Tendai Biti how to use IMF funds, Mthuli Ncube urged

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has been urged to learn from one of his predecessors, Tendai Biti on how to use the funds that the country was allocated by the International Monastery Fund (IMF) under Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

Mthuli Ncube and Tendai Biti
Mthuli Ncube and Tendai Biti

As an IMF member, Zimbabwe on Tuesday received US$961 million, a share of the new special issue SDRs which the Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said would be earmarked for health, manufacturing, agriculture, education and mining.

Ncube said the funds were IMF’s “vote of confidence” in the economy but MDC Alliance has since “told him that it was standard allocation that is made to all IMF members regardless of how their economies are faring”.

MDC Alliance noted that this is not the first time Zimbabwe received IMF funds following disbursement of the same funds in 2008 after the global financial crisis. Biti, then Finance minister, used the money to pay back loans to the IMF.

MDC Alliance urged the treasury office to settle arrears with the IMF and secure IMF confidence for the future generation.

“This is not the first time that Zimbabwe has received SDRs. After the global financial crisis of 2008, the IMF released SDRs to help member states. Under the MDC Ministry of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti, the government of the day used the SDR’s responsibly to strengthen the country’s reserves and pay back its loans to IMF.

“Of the US$400m received by Zimbabwe in 2009, US$140m was used to settle IMF arrears. By showing the world that Zimbabwe was prudent and keen on solving its external debt problem, we built goodwill with bilateral and multilateral lenders. This was a precursor to the LIMA debt management plan of 2016.

“Zimbabwe’s debt problem is a time bomb that affects not only the current generation but future generations as well. The best we can do for the future of our country is ensure the next generation inherits a prosperous nation and not one laden with onerous high interest debt,” read a statement by MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere.

The main opposition also noted that the current levels of corruption in the country and country’s “unsustainable debt is precisely what the IMF is warning against.”

She also called for transparency to make sure that the ruling party does not use the funds for its own campaigns ahead of 2023 elections.

“The risk of mis-use is very high. At the same time the precarious macro-economic environment which requires attention could be delayed. Zanu PF, given a bit of fiscal space, heading towards an election is likely to use the money for electioneering if not held to account. The past is replete with examples of how the regime misuses funds to fund election campaigns. There is no reason to believe this time it will be any different,” Mahere said.

MDC Alliance said its priority was to be vigilant and call for transparency and stronger scrutiny of how the SDR’s will be disbursed.

“They must be used for the benefit of the people and not be looted by political elites.

“Safety nets must be availed to the poor.

“We call for the Auditor-General’s office to be further capacitated to audit, monitor and report timeously to the people of Zimbabwe on how these funds are being disbursed. We further urge journalists and citizens to be alert and expose corruption wherever it manifests and to demand accountability. By holding the government to account, we will ensure the SDR’s reach the intended vulnerable members of our society and be used in the fight against Covid-19,” she added. Nehanda Radio