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Zimbabwe opens for business

Now Mugabe is gone, one of the poorest nations in southern Africa can see the first signs of interest from international investors, but a chaotic currency regime, heavily indebted economy and looming elections are turning initial euphoria into cautious optimism.


Energizing: President Emmerson Mnangagwa tours a hydro electric power plant in Kariba



Flashback to Washington DC, October 2017.

Delegates from all points of the planet begin filling the hotels and eateries of the US capital for the annual World Bank and IMF gabfests. Patrick Chinamasa, well into his fifth year as Zimbabwe’s finance minister, is among them.

These meetings have tended to be tricky for Zimbabwe since it defaulted on billions owed to the World Bank and IMF in 1999. Now officially in hock to its lenders to the tune of nearly $12 billion – a level of indebtedness approaching the country’s GDP – Zimbabwe has generally been confined to the multilaterals’ naughty corner, a pariah for most mainstream lenders.

Harare’s delegations go through the motions of showing up in DC, getting ticked off for missing repayments and pledging that they’ll try harder. It is a grim cycle on constant repeat.

Zimbabwe has met some of its multilateral obligations, but is still reeling from the ravages of hyperinflation and with only 11% of the workforce in formal employment, it is ever more deeply mired in dysfunction and economic mismanagement.

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