US$7 Billion Debt For Zimbabwe By 2011, Rhodesians Blamed!

Ian Smith, the last colonial Prime Minister of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) seen here in later years at his home just behind Mugabe's own official home in Harare. Smith's government, it now emerges, left Mugabe a debt of US$700 million in 1980, which Mugabe nursed until today and it has now ballooned to the extent where, by 1987, it was consuming 65% of Zimbabwe's export earnings. It is yet another sign of Mugabe's bad management of Zimbabwe's economy that he allowed it to fester for so long. But it must still be paid, despite what misguided foreigners are now trying to tell Zimbabwe.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 03 November 2009

This must a new low. A record one, in fact.

A Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, egged on by some misguided foreigners, apparently, yesterday resolved that a US$700 million debt inherited from the government of Ina Smith at Independence in 1980, should not be a burden of Zimbabwe.

State media quotes one of the attendants at the workshop, a staff member of the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development as saying: "Why should the present Zimbabwe pay for what the colonial government did?"

Government should pay no attention to such dangerous talk. It is an accepted norm of international relations that successor governments inherit the debts of their predecessors.

In fact, this is the main reason why Mugabe has now fallen out with the New Labour regime in Britain: Margaret Thatcher in 1980 agreed to fund Land Reform in Zimbabwe, to give the country money to buy farms from white farmers in order to resettle black Zimbabweans on those farms.

Tony Blair and Claire Short, when New Labour came to power in 1997, told Mugabe that they were not bound by the agreement made by Thatcher. This was an untenable position and, even though it was the trigger of the violent land invasions that followed, has been buried under mountains of propaganda from both Zimbabwe and Britain. But that incident is the root cause of the most of what we are experiencing today, exacerbated, of course, by disastrous policies from Mugabe and ZANU PF within Zimbabwe, which led to the butchering of an economy that should have withstood most of what has been thrown at it since 1999.

The Government of Zimbabwe would have no leg to stand on if it decided not to honour that debt from the days of Rhodesia. They have no option but to honour. failure to do this will lead to the country being a pariah in financial markets worldwide: no one will want to lend money to any Zimbabwe government because they will not be sure if the next government will turn around and say they can not pay for the sins of the previous regime.

Any party taking over from ZANU PF, for instance, will have to ensure that the debt that Zimbabwe is saddled with now is paid and paid in full. Or, alternatively, that the debt is written off. But it can not be ignored.

What right would Mugabe have, for instance, to ask David Cameroon, the likely next British Prime Minister, to pay up on the promises of Margaret Thatcher's regime if he himself will not pay up on the promissory notes from Ian Smith's Rhodesia.

Even the new democratic ANC government has to pay the debts that it inherited from the apartheid regime, even if those loans were taken out in order to buy rubber bullets and guns  with which to shoot at black South Africans.

If this was all there was to the workshop in Harare yesterday, then it was a monumental waste of money. Zimbabwe must pay up the debts of Rhodesia when it can. It must never abdicate. Ever. Otherwise our already tattered reputation will be killed forever in the international community.

A for those "well-meaning" foreigners coming with these strange ideas, they should be put on the next plane back home and told firmly that their advice neither wanted not needed.

Just a question: with all the wealth that Zimbabwe is said to have had before 1999, why is it that a mere US$700 million from before 1980 is still outstanding? With all the goodwill Mugabe had in 1980, why did he not see it fit to negotiate for the loan to be expunged? He would have succeeded.

Too late now. No one wants to help him. That debt will have to be paid, even if Mugabe goes and another government comes in.


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