Monday, July 05, 2004

Zimbabwe Government Secretly Pleads With World Bank

Having wrecked the economic base that made it possible for his government to borrow in the first place, Mugabe's government has now discretely gone cap in hand to the World Bank for aid relief.

Financially-crippled Zimbabwe, which is failing to service its US$280 million foreign debt to the World Bank, on Friday unsuccessfully begged the bank to resume assistance to Zimbabwe, especially in the agricultural sector where new farmers complain of lack of money and resources, The Standard has established.

Official sources said Joseph Made, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, unsuccessfully pleaded with the World Bank country director for Central Africa, Hartwig Schafer, for financial assistance to buy farm equipment and inputs for the new farmers.

Schafer was in Zimbabwe as a follow-up to a visit by the RBZ Governor Gideon Gono to the World Bank offices in Washington where he appraised the bank of his efforts to sort out the current financial crisis.

"He (Made) was begging the World Bank to assist the new farmers. Made said agriculture was the backbone of the economy of the country and without support from the World Bank it would not succeed," said a source familiar with proceedings at the meeting.

"However, the World Bank told them that no funds would be forthcoming until they (government) settled their arrears," added the source.
The classic example of chutzpah has traditionally been that of the young man who murders his own parents only to plead in court "Please don't kill me, I'm an orphan!" With this initiative, Mugabe's government has just provided a modern day, governmental example of chutzpah in action, and the worst possible thing the World Bank could do would be to give into the Zimbabwean government's attempt to ransom its own populace for a loan. Any new aid that flows into Harare will go to serve just two ends, the first being to further grease the palms of restive ZANU-PF loyalists, and the second being to serve as an electoral carrot in upcoming elections, with a deliberately engineered famine to serve as the stick. To give Mugabe's government any financial relief would only help to prolong the sufferings of his subjects.