Guang Zhe Chen, the World Bank country director for Zimbabwe, has responded to a recent petition by Patson Dzamara, a human rights defender, calling on the global financial institution not to resume support to the country.
Dzamara’s petition followed reports that the World Bank was on the verge of giving Zimbabwe a line of credit to pull the country out of a biting economic crisis.
Chen, however, waved away the reports, saying Zimbabwe would only be considered after clearing the hundreds of millions of dollars it owes the World Bank.
“In Zimbabwe, the World Bank can only resume direct financial support…when the issue of arrears is fully resolved,” said Chen in his letter to Dzamara that is dated 28 September.
“Upon arrears clearance, however, Zimbabwe will be eligible as a borrowing member of the bank to a broad range of financing instruments,” wrote Chen.
He hailed Dzamara for his petition, saying he had raised “very important concerns about developments in Zimbabwe”.
The country director invited Dzamara to meet with the World Bank staff in Zimbabwe so as to build a better understanding of the problems that the country is facing.
The World Bank suspended direct lending to Zimbabwe in 2000 when the government of President Robert Mugabe fell well behind in settling its arrears.
Lack of direct lending has affected the government’s capacity to heel in an ever growing economic crisis.
The World Bank, though, has over the years maintained limited non-lending instruments and trust funds to Zimbabwe.
These include the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund to finance improvements in water supply and sanitation, the Health Results Innovation Fund to fund maternal and child health, the State and Peace Building Fund and the Rapid Social Response Fund that was used to deal with the 2008 food crisis