British bank to secretly clear Zim debt as relations improve with Mugabe

Bernard Mpofu

United Kingdom based bank, Standard Chartered has agreed to rescue Mugabe’s government with a US$262 million bailout, the Zimbabwe Independent reports.

Technical and financial cooperation between London and Harare is now ‘possible and legal’ since the European Union has now lifted most of the Zimbabwe sanctions except on president  Mugabe and his family.

Confidential papers seen by Zimbabwe Independent show that the bank has agreed to help raise US$1,8 billion to clear Zimbabwe arrears to international financial institutions (IFIs) for Harare to secure US$2 billion in fresh funding.

The bank will pay half of the US$524 million — US$262 million — which Harare has to settle to the African Development Bank.

The African Export and Import Bank will pay the balance under a refinancing scheme to clear part of the over US$600 million owed to the AfDB. Out of this, the Zimbabwe government will pay US$82 million on its own.

This development is not a surprise given that the British conservative government has been distancing itself from Zimbabwe opposition parties while trying to find a way for Mugabe to handover power to his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa who will then lead a transitional post Mugabe government.

The British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Catriona Laing, has been under-fire from anti-Mugabe activists who have come to realise that Britain is now looking forward to work with a reformed Zanu PF.

Mugabe’s government is yet to comment on latest developments in relation to ‘life saving’ financial packages from Britain.