Zimbabwe will clear almost $2 billion of arrears with the African Development Bank and the World Bank by October 2019 and seek help from the world’s most-industrialized nations known as the Group of Seven, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said.
The southern African country needs to clear its arrears before it can raise more loans needed to rebuild an economy hobbled by the misrule of former President Robert Mugabe.
Its total debt is $16.9 billion, while external debt amounts to $7.4 billion, $5.6 billion of which is arrears, Treasury documents published earlier this month show.
“The AfDB and World Bank have preferred creditor status, which means they ought to be cleared first,” Ncube said in an interview Thursday in the capital, Harare.
The nation’s arrears total $680 million with the AfDB, $1.3 billion with the World Bank and $308 million with the European Investment Bank. Zimbabwe is paying 9 percent on its arrears with the World Bank, said Ncube, 55, the former vice president of the AfDB who was appointed as finance minister last month. He presented proposals for clearing the nation’s debt with the lenders at the IMF and World Bank Group annual meetings in Bali, Indonesia last week. Members of the Group of Seven nations “want to help us, they are very warm towards us,” he said.
After settling the World Bank and AfDB arrears, Ncube wants to engage with the Paris Club of creditor countries, to which Zimbabwe owes about $2.8 billion, and he will lobby for special assistance similar to that the World Bank and IMF give to heavily indebted poor countries or for complete debt forgiveness, he said.