Harare – Zimbabwe’s efforts to rejoin the Commonwealth and improve bilateral relations with the West was dealt a major blow on Tuesday as the British parliamentary committee announced that no international bailout would be extended to Zimbabwe until human rights are upheld.
Zimbabwe, currently stuck in an economic turmoil, has a massive debt of up to $18 billion half which is foreign debt. The economy has not been able to attract new international financing due to outstanding debt which the new government was hoping to clear through goodwill and prudent fiscal management.
Britain, in turn, was leading an initiative to convince LIMA group creditors, made up of mainly EU nations, that Zimbabwe was on the right path to economic recovery as well upholding of democratic values.
At Davos in January, Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister said debt clearance was a top priority and that several strategies were being pursued such as debt restructuring and forgiveness coupled with an unparalled reengagement plan.
However in his 2019 Budget, Mthuli Ncube however did not allocate a respectable sum towards international debt repayment with only $300 million being set aside which is 0.004% of total foreing debt.
The country has recently come under international spotlight following a massive crackdown of security forces on civilians in the aftermath of wide protests against a 150% in the prices of fuel to $3,31 and $3,11 for petrol and diesel respectively.
The route taken by the government has been widely criticised with human rights bodies calling for immediate intervention from the international community to protect the citizens, with reports of arrests, rape and killing of civilians on the surface.
Speaking before the parliamentary committee on international development, Britain’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Harriet Baldwin, said no international bailout would be extended to Zimbabwe until soldiers who reportedly killed civilians are brought to book.
“Specifically with regards to sanctions, the committee may be aware that the process of rolling over the EU sanctions has just come up and the UK has been urging that it is not the right time for us to allow the sanctions to expire,” she said.
“And my thinking is that since the recent developments, our case would be that actually we think they might be a case for widening it to include further individuals.”
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