Disbursement of IMF US$960 million SDRs to Zim shames Biti

Staff Reporter

Despite MDC-Alliance vice president Tendai Biti’s efforts to block the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from giving Zimbabwe nearly US$1 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the Government of Zimbabwe recently confirmed receiving the money.

Similarly, Biti inn May 2020 was heavily criticised by Zimbabwean citizens after he had written to the World Bank to push for conditions that were supposed to be tied to COVID -19 aid and any debt relief given to Zimbabwe. The World Bank had announced a special health fund to provide US$7 million to Zimbabwe to help the country fight the spread of Coronavirus.

The unconditional IMF SDR given to Zimbabwe has been a slap in Biti’s face given his stance against the disbursement of the funds.

In June, the IMF doubled its economic growth forecast for Zimbabwe citing a bumper harvest, improved power supply and an increase in manufacturing and construction. The IMF reported that it expected Zimbabwe’s economy to grow by 6 percent this year after initially projecting a 3.1 percent growth earlier in the year.

An angry Biti, singing from his opposition hymn book opposed the projection.

“They did not produce a report; they produced a Press Statement on 16 June 2021. That Press Statement was naive and dishonest,” he said in a video clip widely circulated on social media.

“It appears that the IMF, particularly under the new Managing Director Kristalia Georgieva is naive; Christine Largade (former IMF Chief) was smart and street wise because she had more experience in Africa. The new regime at the IMF is naive,” said Biti.

Biti’s level of self-hate was criticised by many who urged him to admit that there were many positive developments by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for him to see, that even the IMF has noticed.

The SDR fund is part of the US$650 billion global rescue package that the IMF is distributing to  member countries. Zimbabwe has been a Fund member in good standing since clearing its outstanding arrears to the IMF in late 2016.

In a joint statement notifying Zimbabweans, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development assured the nation that the funds would be put to good use.

“The immediate effect of this support from the IMF is to increase the foreign exchange reserves position of the country by $961 million. This will go a long way in buttressing the stability of the domestic economy,” read the statement.

“The funds will be used prudently with utmost accountability to support the social sectors namely health, education and the vulnerable groups, productive sector that includes industry, agriculture and mining, infrastructure investment covering roads and housing.”

The Fund will provide extensive technical assistance in the areas of economic governance and financial sector reforms, as well as macroeconomic statistic.

SDRs are reserve assets issued by the IMF, backed by dollars, euros, yen, sterling and yuan.