Former Finance Minister Biti claims that Zimbabwe’s external debt is “heavily contested.”

Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s former Finance Minister during the Government of National Unity (GNU), has stated that the country’s external debt is heavily challenged.

Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, stated in his midterm review statement in July 2022 that Zimbabwe owed external creditors around US$12 billion.

Biti questioned the debt figure while speaking in a discussion themed “Policy dialogue 13 of 2022: Debt and Corruption in Zimbabwe: What is the Real Cost?” hosted last week by Sapes Trust and moderated by former Finance minister Simba Makoni.

He also said 90% of new loans acquired by the government were bypassing Parliament, contrary to section 327 of the Constitution.

Biti claimed that citizens, including Parliament, have a right to demand full disclosure describing the recent disclosure of US$2,7 billion owed to the Chinese as shocking. NewsDay Zimbabwe quotes him as saying:

We all know that Zimbabwe has been in the throes of an unsustainable debt crisis since the late 90s. A combination of fiscal deficits, stunted growth, and high debt service obligations resulted in our country defaulting on debts in the 2000s. Right now, we have huge arrears and an unsustainable stock of debt with the Paris Club of lenders, World Bank, and African Development Bank. That figure on its own is heavily contested.

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri also recently questioned the country’s domestic debt accuracy.

She said the lack of source documents for interest arrears, other charges, and penalties might result in uncertainty over the country’s debt obligation.

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