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Calls for Zimbabwe to reveal full extent of foreign debt

INCUMBENT PRESIDENT: Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe is seeking re-election despite the dire economic state his government has overseen (PA)

A ZIMBABWEAN public policy group has called for the country’s new government to hold an official public audit into its crippling national debt.

The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZCDD) has also requested the UK government, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lenders to take part in an audit and make transparent all information on loans given to the African country in the past.

It is estimated that the current Zimbabwean government owes £5.9bn to foreign countries, international institutions and foreign private creditors.

Zimbabwe is defaulting on its debt payments and therefore it is currently required to pay back just £9.8m a year – representing 0.5 per cent of government revenue.

The loans were issued from the 1980s and 1990s to counter Zimbabwe’s poor economic growth and rising unemployment, with more than £490m coming from the IMF, World Bank and African Development bank aimed at building the nation’s infrastructure.

However, since the investments have been made, socio-economic progress has been stunted and poverty is rife.

In a statement released earlier today, ZCDD said: “Zimbabwe’s debt should be resolved, but not in a way that means higher payments, more lending, and no increase in the accountability of lenders and the government.

"Instead a public debt audit would be a first step towards a just resolution of the debt, and greater democracy and accountability.”

The UK government are owed money from loans issued between 1998 and 2000 used to buy for police Land River vehicles - later to be used in internal repression - while Spain lent the Zimbabwe government funds to buy a Spanish military aircraft.

Tomorrow, Zimbabwean citizens will go to the polls to vote in presidential, senate, national assembly and local government elections.

The main focus will be the battle for the presidency between the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, and the prime minster, Morgan Tsvangirai.

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