Zimbabwe creditors to meet Feb. 23 over US$6bln arrears clearance, says finance minister

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By Reuters

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s creditors will meet on Feb. 23 as the country takes steps towards clearing more than $6 billion of arrears on its foreign debt, finance minister Mthuli Ncube told Reuters on Wednesday.

About 17 countries from the Paris Club of creditor nations will attend, as well as the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank, to discuss progress on economic and governance reforms, including compensation to white former farmers, Ncube said.

Zimbabwe, which has suffered periods of hyperinflation in the past 15 years, had over $14 billion in external debt as of September, according to finance ministry data. Due to its arrears, it has not received loans from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for more than two decades.

The meeting agenda “is part of what is needed for us to walk through the road towards arrears clearance,” Ncube said. “It has really begun in earnest, so I am pleased we are at this stage and we are making very good progress.”

He did not confirm if the meeting was virtual, in-person or a hybrid.

The creditors first met on Dec. 1, facilitated by AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina and former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano.

Ncube said in October the government had begun making “token payments” to the multilateral lenders and planned to do so to its Paris Club creditors as well.

The IMF said after a visit to Zimbabwe in December that the country would need durable reforms and a clear path to restructuring its debt, including clearing the $6 billion of arrears, before it could receive Fund money.

Annual inflation fell to 229.8% in January from 243.8% in December, prompting the central bank to cut interest rates by 50 percentage points to 150%.