COVID-19: Masiyiwa appeals to IMF, World Bank to set up special fund for ‘sanctioned’ Zimbabwe

Econet Wireless founder Strive Masiyiwa has issued an appeal to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other lenders to set up a US$500 million trust fund to help Zimbabwe and Sudan respond to coronavirus.

Masiyiwa says Zimbabwe was left out of a debt payment relief programme of the G20 because it is under sanctions. The G20 programme is separate from the debt service relief given to 25 countries by the IMF earlier, for which Zimbabwe was not eligible as the programme was only for countries that owe the IMF.

Masiyiwa proposes a special purpose vehicle, independent of government, which would coordinate global aid to fund the COVID-19 response in both Zimbabwe and Sudan. He has pledged to contribute to that fund and campaign for others to do the same.

Below is Masiyiwa’s statement and proposal in full:

“I have been at the forefront, for several weeks, in asking for Debt Relief and Economic Impact Stimulus on behalf of the African continent.

In making these appeals, those of us who have called for these measures have used as our bench-marking measures that have been taken in the US, Europe, Asia, and China.

So far I am pleased that there has been growing support for these measures. At the last World Bank, IMF and G20 meetings, many African countries secured debt relief by way of ‘standstills’ on interest payments, which are valued at over US$22 billion.  More than half of that money has been disbursed already to countries in Africa, as it was sitting in debt service accounts.

These African countries can now urgently buy Medical Equipment, PPE and ventilators. They can also train and pay doctors and nurses.

Two countries were conspicuous in their omission from any form of relief: Zimbabwe and Sudan. This is because they are under sanctions.

While I don’t want to get into the issues around how and why there are sanctions, everyone knows that I personally had to flee my country, Zimbabwe, because of persecution 20 years ago. I have not been back since.

I am not a politician, just an entrepreneur working day and night to create wealth and jobs across many African nations.

I have not spoken to anyone in the governments of these countries, including that of Zimbabwe, with respect to this matter. I have no personal contact with the leaders of these governments. For the avoidance of doubt; this is not an appeal for the lifting of sanctions.

People also know that my wife and I (through our small family foundation) continue to do everything we can to try and help the people of Zimbabwe, including making many preparations to help prepare for the catastrophic impact of this pandemic on the nation. Alas, we are just private citizens, and it is not enough.

We are deeply concerned about the potential loss of life if international aid does not come quickly, especially to address the needs of this pandemic.

I would like to respectfully make the following suggestion;

Creation of a Special Purpose Trust Vehicle, under the leadership of independent people, including global humanitarians

I would like to appeal to the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral institutions, to create humanitarian trusts for each country, which are managed by third parties, along the lines of the Global Fund.

I have consulted widely with experts and many told me of numerous precedents, at the level of the UN, IMF, World Bank, the EU or even the US government itself

The more countries that can contribute, even from China, and our African brothers, the more credible it would be, as global compassion towards the peoples of these very poor nations.

I would urge them to consider seeding the trusts with at least US$500 million and inviting others including private philanthropy to participate.

In the case of Zimbabwe, I will personally contribute in a trust and encourage friends and partners to do the same.

The money would be used to provide urgently required medical supplies, training and remuneration for health care workers. We can also provide urgently needed repairs to hospitals and rural clinics across the country.

This is a humanitarian appeal.

Please help Sudan and Zimbabwe’s people.
In God’s name please help these nations, before it is too late.”