Zimbabwe, which is currently struggling to raise R130 million to finance its elections this year, lost $11.8 billion through illicit financial transfers between 1980 and 2009, according to a report released yesterday.
The report compiled jointly by the African Development Bank and Global Financial Integrity says Africa as a whole lost $1.4 trillion during the same period. In other words, the poor continent was a net creditor to the rich world.
The report says it looked at recorded and unrecorded capital flows to and from Africa over the 20–year-period from 1980.
Recorded capital flows are financial and non-financial transactions recorded in the balance of payments, while unrecorded capital flows are capital “flight” which covers capital flows that are illicit in nature and involve the transfer of money earned through corruption, kickbacks, tax evasion, criminal activities, and transactions of contraband goods.
The amount the country is reported to have lost, the net resource transfers, is calculated by the difference between the net recorded transfers and the illicit financial flows.
In Southern Africa, South Africa topped the list with net transfer losses of $183.8 billion. It was followed by Angola with $45.6 billion and Botswana with $30.7 billion.
Mozambique had a net gain of $25.4 billion.
The report says it did not have data for Zimbabwe from 1995 to 2010 but could not exclude the country which was facing a severe economic crisis, and others ravaged by civil war such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Somalia, because this would have biased the regional and group totals.
It says net resource transfers for these countries were approximated by their current account position. The report says that though this assumption had its short-comings, it was not too unrealistic.