Referendum: Zim turns to local firms

2013-02-19 09:11


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Zimbabwe says to clear $1.86bn arrears by next April
Zimbabwe says to clear $1.86bn arrears by next April

Zimbabwe will clear arrears of $1.86bn to international creditors such as the IMF by the end of next April, the finance minister says, a major step towards unlocking new funding.

Harare - Destitute Zimbabwe plans to borrow from local companies to raise $100m needed to hold a referendum on a new constitution, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Monday.

The southern African country will vote in March on whether to adopt a new charter approved by parliament that seeks to curb sweeping presidential powers while strengthening state institutions such as the cabinet, parliament and judiciary.

Rivals Tsvangirai and veteran President Robert Mugabe formed a power-sharing government after a disputed 2008 election and agreed to hold fresh polls only after adopting a new constitution.

Tsvangirai and one of his deputies in government, Arthur Mutambara, said the government wanted to borrow from firms, including mines and banks, as well as issuing Treasury bills.

"We have put in place a mechanism to raise funds for the referendum," Tsvangirai told reporters at a press conference.

Mutambara added: "We are saying to the private sector: 'This is your country, political stability is in your best interest.'"

Harare has a history of defaulting on its debt and has seen its external debt rise to more than $10bn.

Zimbabwe's economy shrunk by as much as 40% between 2000 and 2008 - according to official figures - a decline blamed on Mugabe's policies such as the seizure of white-owned farms.

Most foreign donors have withheld money, pressing for political and economic reforms.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has already approached the United Nations to help raise money for general elections, which by law are due when the current presidential and parliamentary terms expire at the end of June. 

Tsvangirai said the United Nations had a team in the country to discuss the request.

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Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  arthur mutambara  |  tendai biti  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa


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