SA throws weight on Zim debt plan

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Bernard Mpofu

South Africa has pledged to assist Zimbabwe on its arrears and debt clearance plan as Harare steps up its efforts to access concessionary funding from multilateral financial instutions, a top government official said Tuesday.

Zimbabwe today concluded its Bi-National Commission (BNC) meetings with its largest trading partner as the country seeks more capital to stimulate economic growth.

Zimbabwe and South Africa pledged to deepen diplomatic and trade relations despite the latter not committing to a financial bailout to shore up her northern neighbour.

“The two countries agreed to consider options for expanding the Standing Facility Arrangement between the respective central banks, said Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo who also doubles as the BNC co—chair.

“Other financing options beyond this are also being explored (for example , a facility from South African private banks to the Zimbabwe private sector, guaranteed by the South African  government, with an appropriate counter-guarantee from the Zimbabwe government.

“They also agreed to work together on re-engagement with the international co-operating partners in support of Zimbabwe’s economic reform and Debt Arrears Clearance Agenda.”

Zimbabwe is saddled with a debt stock of $16,9 billion, with external debt accounting for approximately $7,4 billion.

Out of this, approximately $5,6 billion is in arrears, even though the country settled its IMF arrears of $107,9 million in November 2016.

Zimbabwe owes the World Bank $1,3 billion, AfDB (US$680 million) and US$308 million to the European Investment Bank.