HARARE – Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa and the President of the continental Afreximbank, J. Ekra, have launched a $100 million facility to restore inter-bank lending and drag the struggling southern African country’s economy out of its slumber.
At a ceremony in the capital Harare, Chinamasa – a strong ally of President Robert Mugabe – emphasized that although the facility would go a long way towards restoring normalcy in the banking sector, it was not the “panacea” to the country’s economic woes. He said his administration was working towards similar facilities aimed at restoring investor confidence in the beleaguered economy, such as the provision of affordable credit to industry and commerce.
Acting Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Dr Charity Dhliwayo, described Afreximbank as an “all weather” friend that stood by Zimbabwe in good and bad times. The Afreximbank facility will allow the RBZ to resume its “lender of last resort” role that it relinquished when the country dropped the Zimbabwe dollar and introduced multi-currencies almost five years ago.
Ekra, whose board was also simultaneously meeting in Harare, said Zimbabwe and his bank had signed the MOU for the facility in February. That was after Chinamasa had approached him at a World Bank meeting in the US. He said besides the $100 million, Afreximbank had also lent $800 million to Zimbabwe as a revolving fund to assist industry.
Leading bankers, Afrieximbank board members and senior government officials attended the lunch-time launch.