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Zimbabwe Asks African Bank for Debt Relief

FILE - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made (right). (Photo/Irwin Chifera)

Zimbabwe’s finance minister has appealed to visiting African Development Bank executives for debt relief, in an effort to boost the country’s ailing economy.

Patrick Chinamasa made the appeal Monday to an AfDB team visiting Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Chinamasa says the Zimbabwe government hopes if the AfDB cancels its debt, other organizations such as the IMF and World Bank will do the same.

“In our meeting I have emphasized that the African Development Bank should play a leading role in securing the clearance of our areas, which we have accumulated with the multi-lateral creditors," said Chinamasa. "So I have tried to appeal to the bank. I am aware that they have done it with respect to other countries. My appeal is that they should bend backwards to assist us so that we become part of the global economy.”

Zimbabwe has an external debt of nearly $10 billion, which it has been accruing since 2000. About $500 million is owed to the African Development Bank.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund said Zimbabwe did not qualify for debt relief under the heavily indebted poor countries initiative because it is not poor enough. The initiative has been used in countries like Zambia to settle debt.

Ten executives of African Development Bank are visiting Zimbabwe and Mozambique to assess progress of already financed projects. They are expected to meet Friday with President Robert Mugabe.