Opposition leader and former Finance Minister Tendai Biti has been incensed by Britain’s loan of $100 million to Zimbabwe describing it as an attempt to put lipstick on the crocodile.
Britain’s loan, through its development finance institution, CDC, is the first direct loan to Zimbabwe in more than 20 years.
The last direct loan was for a fish farm in 1994.
The Financial Times which asked Biti for comment said the loan was a clear indication of the thawing of relations between Britain and Zimbabwe, something that irked Biti because he felt this was direct support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is contesting the coming elections as the party candidate for the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
“The elections are only a few months away. Let’s see the quality of this election first,” Biti told the Financial Times, adding: “This attempt to put lipstick on the crocodile is most unfortunate.”
Mnangagwa, who took over from President Robert Mugabe through a “soft coup” last November has been campaigning for investment into the country with his mantra: “Zimbabwe is open for business.”
Although there have been several promises of investment, now totaling $11 billion, his drive has largely been brushed off as mere campaign talk.
The new loan, from Britain as opposed to the deals from China and India, is a clear indication that the international community is warming up to the new leader.
The opposition has been campaigning that Mnangagwa in unelectable with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa saying he will not even garner 5 percent of the vote.
The CDC, which is working in conjunction with Standard Chartered Bank, said: "Zimbabwe’s economy has been shattered over the last two decades, yet holds real potential for future growth.
“CDC is taking a lead within the investment community in showing its support for economic development.
“If a new government in post-election Zimbabwe encourages investment and pro-business policies, Zimbabwe can be one of the great investment success stories of the next decade. What the country needs is patient capital, and it needs it now.”
It added: “Our agreement with Standard Chartered will enable them to provide vital foreign currency lending to some of Zimbabwe’s most dynamic businesses, creating jobs and opportunity.
“Our support will not only enable local companies to access finance in hard currency, but will demonstrate to commercial investors that the economic environment is ready for further financing.”
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