MDC hits out at IMF, calls the Fund a ‘choir boy’ for Zimbabwe govt

Zimbabwe MDC currrency
Tendai Biti (pic: EPA-EFE/Aaron Ufumeli)

The International Monetary fund (IMF) has become a “choir boy” for the Zimbabwe government, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says in its new policy document.

The IMF in May approved a new Staff Monitored Programme for Zimbabwe, under which the Fund will monitor Zimbabwe’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme until March next year. While the SMP does not bring any new funding, it has been seen by the Zimbabwe government as a major step forward in its attempts to mend relations with international financiers. The IMF has also given cautious approval for Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s economic reforms.

However, in its just-released Road to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy (RELOAD) policy document, the MDC sharply criticises the IMF’s position on Zimbabwe.

“More disturbingly international financial institutions in particular the International Monetary Fund, continue to pay a blind eye to the economic chaos in Zimbabwe and on the contrary have become a choir boy for the economic cannibalism and sabotage being pursued by the authorities in Zimbabwe,” the party says.

This is not the first time that the opposition has attacked the IMF over recent months. In April, after news that the IMF were discussing an SMP for Zimbabwe, the party said the Fund had “compromised and lied for the purposes of creating staff work for themselves” in Zimbabwe. IMF SMPs, the party said then, were a “gateway for autocrats”.

Under RELOAD, the MDC criticises what it calls a “confused monetary policy”, under which government has taken far reaching currency measures since October, including most recently the controversial banning of the use of foreign currency for local transactions.

Instead, the MDC proposes dropping the bond note for the US dollar, “and in the long term join the rand monetary union”.

[Click here to read our report on MDC’s proposals on currency]

At the RELOAD launch event, MDC VP Tendai Biti, a former Finance Minister, a country that had “self dollarised” due to currency failure could not successfully restore its own unit, due to the collapse in public confidence.

The party’s position on the rand and re-dollarisation is markedly at odds with that of government. Mthuli Ncube has described adopting the rand or returning to the US dollar as a “cop out”, saying the country had to move towards its own currency.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a radio interview in June, said there had been too many conditions required to the join the Common Market Area the last time Zimbabwe explored that option.

South Africa itself appears reluctant to allow Zimbabwe to join the CMA. In January, South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said Zimbabwe needed to have its own currency, a heavy hint of the sentiment in Pretoria over the matter.