A row is brewing in Washington
this week over the IMFs failure to restore voting rights
to Zimbabwe, despite the country having fully settled its
arrears to the funds general resources account (GRA) 18
months ago. Its a clear case of the Fund cheating a
member, a senior executive board member told Emerging
Markets. The Zimbabweans made [the repayment]
happen, but the IMF did not respond.
Heat is being generated by the
perception that the Fund is interpreting its rules selectively,
and to reflect the foreign policy concerns of rich nations. In
2001, the IMF declared Zimbabwe ineligible for borrowing due to
its overdue financial obligations, and initiated compulsory
withdrawal procedures against the nation in December 2003.
But in February 2006, the
country cleared its $210 million debt to the GRA. A month
later, the executive board decided not to revoke the sanctions,
despite the relevant managing director having withdrawn his
complaint (a procedure which would normally trigger restoration
An IMF spokesman said Zimbabwe
had failed to repay a separate $190 million debt to the Poverty
Reduction and Growth Facility-Exogenous Shocks Facility Trust.
That is final and this is how the IMF is run, the
But arrears to this trust should
not automatically result in sanctions, if a country shows its
commitment to repay, according to the IMFs charter.
Zimbabwe settled its arrears to the GRA, on the understanding
that its access to international finance as well as voting
rights would be restored. Officials from non-OECD countries are
angered that this approach was scrapped.
minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, told Emerging Markets:
In order to restore our voting rights, we need to have
85% of the votes in the board but the US has about 17%. With
the US using their voting powers to block normal procedures, it
is an attack on democracy.
This was a deliberate
attempt by the British and American governments to bring about
political change in Zimbabwe, he told Emerging
Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, head of
the IMFs Africa department, said at a press briefing on
Friday that staff had recommended the restoration of
Zimbabwes voting rights but the executive board had
decided against doing so, so well just take note of
that. He said that the most important thing
is that Zimbabwe deserves better than it is having
with current government policies.