HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s government is only left with a few days before it settled its $1,8 billion debt owed to multilateral institutions and we are all waiting — with bated breath — if the cash-strapped administration will default again on its promises.History has shown that Zimbabwe defaulted on its International Monetary Fund (IMF) obligations in 2001 and since then the country has struggled to service its external debt which has now ballooned to over $10 billion.
However, what is interesting is that, despite its failure to pay its bloated civil service wage bill on time, the government made a commitment to pay the principal debt of $1,8 billion to IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank by April this year.
We applaud such bravado by the Zanu PF-led administration to clear its arrears and it must now prove to all and sundry that they are really committed to reform by paying back the debt as promised.
Research has shown that international re-engagement efforts are based on trust, honesty and the fulfilment of promises.
If Zimbabwe fails to deliver its commitment next month, then it would be very difficult for anyone to take us seriously.
We simply need to repay our debts not only for the country to access new capital but also to help companies to secure offshore loans at reduced rates.
As it stands, due to the country’s high political risk profile, companies are finding it difficult to retool as there are no cheap loans available for them.
Zimbabwe is too rich to fail to pay its arrears, but thanks to mismanagement, corruption, unbridled greed and excessive factionalism the country — blessed with abundant platinum, gold, diamonds, chrome and copper among others — is struggling with repaying a paltry $10 billion.
The country has immense potential to become an economic hub in southern Africa as we have all the resources and qualified manpower to take Zimbabwe forward.
However, our main problem lies with the Mugabe-led administration, which has plundered this country at the expense of the population.
It is sad that for a nation which boasts of a high literacy rate in Africa, Zimbabwe has no health and social services systems to write home about.
We still have people dying in their hundreds due to medieval diseases such as cholera, malaria and dysentery as a result of government’s failure to invest in healthcare infrastructure, yet our so-called leaders have the temerity to go and seek medical attention in India and Singapore.
We must all wake up as a nation and demand new leaders who have the people’s needs at heart.