11 June 2009

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Holds Meetings With IMF and World Bank in Washington


Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has held high level meetings with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in the build-up to his Friday meeting with US President Barack Obama.

James Maridadi, Tsvangirai's spokesman, said the Prime Minister is trying to establish ways and means of institutional re-engagement with multilateral and bilateral partners, as well as the members of the international community.

As a build-up to the White House meeting, Prime Minister Tsvangirai will meet separately the Chairman of the Senate Sub-Committee on Africa, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Republican Senator John McCain and Secretary of State Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton,' Maridadi said.

Economist Luke Zunga said Tsvangirai's meetings with the Breton Woods Institutions would most likely have centred on how the country was going to pay back the US$1 billion debt it owes to them.

Tsvangirai cannot ask for the debts to be cancelled because that requires a number of specific programmes to be in place in the country before that happens. There should be tangible evidence of the restoration of human rights and the rule of law for the IMF or World Bank to consider even listening to his pleas for debt canceling,' Zunga said.

In fact people should be told the truth that no aid money is going to Zimbabwe anytime soon, as long as there are no reforms. The best Tsvangirai can do now is to plead for aid to speed up constitutional reforms to allow the country to have free and fair elections after the exercise,' Zunga added.

The Prime Minister has said he is not walking around with a begging bowl in his hands, but is trying to re-establish ways and means of re-engaging the west.

The United States, not impressed so far with the speed of reforms in Zimbabwe, has resolved to maintain targeted travel and financial restrictions on Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF inner circle.

In a resolution passed unanimously on Tuesday, the US senate said targeted sanctions and an arms embargo will remain in place until there is proof that the inclusive government was moving towards the restoration of the rule of law and upholding human rights.

The senate said suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance will also remain in place.

Western nations, led by the US and Britain are withholding direct financial support to the Harare administration, unconvinced that Mugabe is genuinely committed to democratic change or to sharing power with Tsvangirai.

A clear sign of this was a statement by a ZANU PF cabinet minister, who said they' don't take directives from Tsvangirai. Information Minister Webster Shamu said his ministry only accepts directives on important issues from Mugabe.

Shamu said this when opposing an application by a group of journalists, who won a court order to force his ministry to allow them to cover the just ended COMESA summit, without accreditation from the defunct media commission. Shamu said in an affidavit that Tsvangirai was only head of government business in parliament, according to a power-sharing agreement signed by the three main political parties last year.

Shamu added that the Prime Minister did not have powers to appoint ministers to Cabinet and therefore had no authority to issue directives to them.

This is exactly what the international community is worried about, that Tsvangirai is only be a figurehead in government, without any authority to change things.

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