Biti Voices Satisfaction at Washington Contacts

By Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye & Brenda Moyo
biti.jpgWashington - Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti expressed satisfaction Monday after meeting various officials of the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, contrasting such contacts with the chilly relationship that has prevail

Addressing a forum organized by the National Endowment for Democracy,
said he hoped that his meetings with State Department, National
Security Council and Treasury officials would eventually produce
results in terms of bilateral cooperation and assistance.

U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that Washington will not extend
aid beyond humanitarian assistance to development or reconstruction
funding until there is clear evidence Harare has undertaken meaningful
reform on human rights, the rule of law and other issues.

In an interview with VOA following his presentation at the forum
co-sponsored by Freedom House, Biti acknowledged that despite the warm
reception he had received from the Obama administration, certain
"toxic" issues remain to be resolved in Harare if it is to receive the
full attention and level of assistance the national unity government
there is seeking.

Biti told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye that he will return to
Zimbabwe a happy man as he sees the potential for expanded
international engagement in future.

Biti was scheduled to depart for Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

IMF Africa Department Director Antoinette Sayeh told reporters Saturday
that the lender of last resort was satisfied with the progress made by
the unity government and intended to offer small, technical
assistance" to Harare, encouraging other donors to do likewise.

Though funding did not appear to be in the offing, Sayeh told reporters
there is a window of opportunity in Zimbabwe that is worthy of support
by the international community.

She said the International Monetary Fund board would take up the case
of Zimbabwe on May 4 based on the report submitted by a mission sent to
the country recently to assess the state of the economy and the new
government’s policies and plans.

African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka told reporters there
are many things to be done before Zimbabwe can fully re-engage with
international lenders.

His comments Sunday dashed speculation that the African multilateral
financial institution might provide a bridge loan for Harare to pay
down its IMF debt arrears.

VOA News

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