Sunday Mail Reporter
THE next round of high-level talks on Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process will be held next month, marking yet another pivotal moment in the country’s quest to clear its international debt and unlock fresh sources of capital.
On Friday, three technical committees set up to steer the negotiations convened a meeting to discuss Zimbabwe’s progress in implementing a set of targets agreed by parties to the debt resolution and arrears clearance negotiations.
The meetings will pave the way for next month’s crucial high-level dialogue.
The fifth round of the Structured Dialogue Platform will be spearheaded by former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano and African Development Bank president Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said: “The next round of debt and arrears resolution discussions resumed on Friday, January 19, 2024.
“On this day, the three technical committees focussing on economic reforms, governance, and land and farmer compensation issues, and other stakeholders, met to refine the strategy going forward and to accelerate implementation in areas where there are gaps.
“The technical committees will have further meetings, culminating in a high-level meeting of principals targeted for late February or the beginning of March.
“In parallel, during this period the IMF (International Monetary Fund) will be conducting an Article IV mission on the economy, which will also inform the parameters for a Staff Monitored Programme (SMP).”
Parties to the negotiations have endorsed a three-pronged strategy to guide Zimbabwe through the programme.
The strategy entails implementation of economic reforms and recalibration of Zimbabwe’s governance systems.
The country has also made a commitment to compensate white former commercial farmers for improvements made on farms and resolve cases of farms covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) that were affected during the Land Reform Programme.
President Mnangagwa appointed Dr Adesina as the country’s arrears clearance and debt resolution champion, while former president Chissano is the high-level facilitator.
This year, Treasury has set aside US$55 million to compensate white former farm owners whose land was appropriated
under the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme.
Compensation of the farmers is a central pillar of the debt and arrears negotiations.
About US$35 million will go towards compensating former owners of farms covered under the Global Compensation Deed, signed between Government and white former commercial farmers in 2020.
The rest will be directed towards the farms protected by BIPPAs that were affected by the land reform programme.
The Government has committed to paying the farmers US$3,5 billion under the Global Compensation Deed.
United Kingdom-based financial advisory firm Newstate Partners has since been engaged to explore options for raising funds from international markets to support the compensation programme.
The next round of meetings is expected to consider a range of options, which may include sourcing funding from external financiers.