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Zim Creditors to Meet Over Debt

FILE: Zimbabwe Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube. Taken Oct. 18, 2022

Zimbabwe's creditors will meet on Feb. 23 as the country takes steps towards clearing more than $6 billion of arrears on its foreign debt, finance minister Mthuli Ncube told Reuters on Wednesday.

About 17 countries from the Paris Club of creditor nations will attend, as well as the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank, to discuss progress on economic and governance reforms, including compensation to white former farmers, Finance Minister Ncube said.

The meeting agenda "is part of what is needed for us to walk through the road towards arrears clearance," Ncube said. "It has really begun in earnest, so I am pleased we are at this stage and we are making very good progress."

He did not confirm if the meeting was virtual, in-person or a hybrid.

Ncube said in October the government had begun making "token payments" to the multilateral lenders and planned to do so to its Paris Club creditors as well.

Zimbabwe, which has suffered periods of hyperinflation in the past 15 years, had over $14 billion in external debt as of September, according to finance ministry data. Due to its arrears, it has not received loans from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for more than two decades.

The creditors first met on Dec. 1, facilitated by AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina and former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano.

The IMF said after a visit to Zimbabwe in December that the country would need durable reforms and a clear path to restructuring its debt, including clearing the $6 billion of arrears, before it could receive Fund money.