'This is not an appeal to lift sanctions': Masiyiwa pleads for Zimbabwe coronavirus fund

Zimbabwe-born billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has appealed to global lenders the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to set up a special purpose fund to help Zimbabwe and Sudan respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Econet founder Masiyiwa argued that unlike many other developing countries, Zimbabwe and Sudan have struggled to access funding from global lenders and the G20 due to facing sanctions. 

Masiyiwa says he fled Zimbabwe 20 years ago "due to persecution" and has not been back since. He is "deeply concerned about the potential loss of life if international aid does not come quickly, especially to address the needs of this pandemic", he added.

"For the avoidance of doubt; this is not an appeal for the lifting of sanctions.

"I am not a politician, just an entrepreneur working day and night to create wealth and jobs across many African nations," Masiyiwa said.

In a statement released on Monday, Masiyiwa proposed the creation of a Special Purpose Trust Vehicle, under the leadership of independent people, including global humanitarians.

"I would like to appeal to the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral institutions, to create humanitarian trusts for each country, which are managed by third parties, along the lines of the Global Fund," he said. 

He added that similar interventions have already set a precedent, at the level of the United Nations, IMF, World Bank, the European Union, "or even the United States government itself".

Econet CEO Strive Masiyiwa.

Strive Masiyiwa (AFP)

Masiyiwa said global lenders should consider seeding the trusts with at least US$500 million and inviting others, including private philanthropists, to participate.

"The money would be used to provide urgently required medical supplies, training and remuneration for health care workers.

"We can also provide urgently needed repairs to hospitals and rural clinics across the country," he said.

The US imposed sanctions on Sudan after accusing the country of harbouring terrorists, which the Sudanese government has denied. The US previously imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in the early 2000s. Sanctions have since been extended, with the US arguing that President Emmerson Mnangagwa failed to implement reforms after former leader Robert Mugabe was ousted.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa - in his capacity as chair of the African Union - recently called for economic bans to be lifted from Zimbabwe and Sudan as the continent grapples with the pandemic, News24 reported. 

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