New docs reveal extent of debt

Newly uncovered documents reveal that Zimbabwe’s £210 million debt to the UK includes loans from Tony Blair’s government to police force while they were engaged in internal repression.

Campaigners are calling for an audit of the country’s $7 billion debt to find out exactly who benefitted from past loans.

Britain lent the ZRP money in the 1990s to buy 1,500 Land Rovers, backed by UK Export Finance. The evidence appears in a new report published by Jubilee Debt Campaign, the Zimbabwe Europe Network and Eurodad.

The report reveals the origin of much of Zimbabwe’s $7 billion debt. At least $750 million of debt comes directly from structural adjustment loans from the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank.

“Debt has played a key role in the tragedies suffered by many in Zimbabwe over the past 20 years. Dodgy projects, debt repayments and failed economic policies contributed to economic decline. Lenders should help increase transparency and democracy by coming clean on the debts come from,” says the report’s author, Tim Jones.

The debt includes:

  • Loans from the World Bank for tree plantations to create fuel supplies. However, the World Bank failed to realise there was already plenty of wood available, and there was no economic return on the plantations.
  • Loans from the Spanish government for Spanish military aircraft.
  • Loans tied to buying exports from British companies.

Zimbabwe is currently in default of many of its loans and is trying to enter the debt relief process for poor countries run by the IMF and World Bank. The report argues this would trap Zimbabwe in further cycles of debt while keeping the questionable details of previous loans out of the public eye.

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