Pres­i­dent, Putin set for key talks

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Dar­ling­ton Musarurwa News Ed­i­tor

PRES­I­DENT Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa will meet Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vlad­mir Putin early next year, as he con­tin­ues his en­gage­ment and re-en­gage­ment drive that is cal­cu­lated to in­te­grate Zimbabwe into the global fam­ily of na­tions and spur growth as part of the vi­sion to cre­ate an up­per mid­dle-in­come econ­omy by 2030.

In Au­gust this year, Vice-Pres­i­dent Dr Con­stantino Chi­wenga was in Moscow as Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s spe­cial en­voy, to re­lay a mes­sage to the Krem­lin.

Writ­ing for The Sun­day Mail in his in­au­gu­ral col­umn for this pub­li­ca­tion, which will be ex­clu­sively car­ried by this pa­per ev­ery week, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said his charm of­fen­sive on the side­lines of this year’s United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly had yielded a “solid stock of good­will”.

That good­will, he said, had helped Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Mthuli Ncube make sig­nif­i­cant head­way on an ar­rears clear­ance deal with cred­i­tors last week.

“As I write, our del­e­ga­tion led by the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, is in Bali, In­done­sia, where it is meet­ing devel­op­ment part­ners and cred­i­tors. This ini­tia­tive, which is a con­tin­u­a­tion of our en­gage­ment and re-en­gage­ment pol­icy, has elicited good re­sponses from IFIs and devel­op­ment part­ners,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

“The nu­mer­ous con­tacts I made on the side­lines of the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly gave our coun­try a solid stock of good­will which our del­e­ga­tion in Bali has fully ex­ploited. Key coun­tries which in­clude the United King­dom, France, Ger­many, Italy, the Nether­lands, Aus­tralia, South Africa, the EU bloc and even the United States of Amer­ica, have re­sponded favourably to our en­gage­ment over­tures, and have wel­comed our debt-set­tle­ment plan for the US$5,6 bil­lion we owe IFIs and the Paris Club, and our Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Plan which we will now fully im­ple­ment.

“The Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China con­tin­ues to sup­port us both bi­lat­er­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, in­clud­ing by way of pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ments which con­tinue to en­hance na­tional ca­pac­ity.

‘‘Early next year, I am set to meet Pres­i­dent Putin in Rus­sia to ex­plore ways to en­hance our co-oper­a­tion,” he said.

Last week, Prof Ncube an­nounced that the IMF and World Bank had en­dorsed Zimbabwe’s ar­rears clear­ance plan and two-year Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme (TSP).

The African Devel­op­ment Bank, EU, France, UK, USA, Aus­tralia, Nether­lands and South Africa also ex­pressed their sup­port.

The TSP will guide the coun­try’s eco­nomic thrust through to De­cem­ber 2020.

Zimbabwe ar­rears cur­rently stand at $5,6 bil­lion, which are spilt into $2,2 bil­lion (mul­ti­lat­eral cred­i­tors), $2,7 bil­lion (Paris Club) and $700 mil­lion (non-Paris Club $700 mil­lion).

Prof Ncube told The Sun­day Mail last week that next month Gov­ern­ment would en­gage two spe­cific spon­sors who are G7 mem­bers to se­cure bridg­ing fi­nance re­quired to clear ar­rears with mul­ti­lat­eral cred­i­tors. The G7 com­prises Canada, France, Ger­many, Italy, Ja­pan, the United King­dom and the United States.

“Gov­ern­ment will en­gage the G7 as a bloc and also two spe­cific cred­i­tors within G7, as po­ten­tial spon­sors. I have al­ready told the two po­ten­tial spon­sors that I will be ap­proach­ing them at the end of Novem­ber,” Prof Ncube said.

In a speech at Chatham House — an in­ter­na­tional af­fairs think-tank in Lon­don — last Mon­day, Prof Ncube said the plan was likely to be “ad­hoc” and “custom-made”.

“In the end the ar­rears plan for Zimbabwe will be ad­hoc; it will be custom-made.

‘‘I think it will be sim­i­lar to the Myan­mar one, where Ja­pan was the spon­sor, so even for us, we need a spon­sor to make this hap­pen, then ca­jole the rest of the club for debt re­struc­ture,” he said.

Myan­mar, which was sad­dled by a debt of $11 bil­lion, met the Paris Club on Jan­uary 25, 2013 and the lat­ter agreed to can­cel half of the ar­rears in two stages and resched­uled the rest over 15 years, with a seven-year grace pe­riod.

Nor­way can­celled all the $534 mil­lion owed to it, while Ja­pan can­celled more than $3 bil­lion.

The Ja­pan Bank for In­ter­na­tional Co-oper­a­tion ex­tended $500 mil­lion to help clear ar­rears to the Asian Devel­op­ment Bank.

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