Uncovering Zimbabwe’s debt
IMF loans to, and repayments from, Zimbabwe, 1980-2009 (US$ million, current prices)97 New loans from IMF
Repayments to IMF
US$ million, current prices
225 200 175 150 125 100 75 50 25 0
3.4 Project loans in the 1990s As well as structural adjustment loans, the World Bank continued to give loans for projects through the 1990s. From 1991 to 1997 US$25 million was loaned for a second family health project, following the first one in the 1980s (see above). The World Bank evaluation is that the impact of the project on health was less than expected because of the “faltering economy”, less government spending on health and the rapid increase in HIV/AIDS.98 The World Bank health project was being undermined by the impacts of adjustment, but again the money was given as loans so left Zimbabwe with an increased debt burden. Once again, the evaluation fails to consider whether an external loan for healthcare is in any way suitable. Furthermore, World Bank lending for health care in the 1990s also came with conditions to bring in user fees for health services. Patrick Bond writes that: “In 1992, within a year of the implementation of user charges, the maternal mortality rate had doubled even in Harare due to fees imposed for ante-natal checkups and hospital care.” 99
We estimate despite making interest and principle repayments in the 1990s, Zimbabwe continues to owe US$28 million for an inappropriate healthcare loan. The Spanish government also gave the equivalent of €28 million of loans for Spanish healthcare equipment during the 1990s; €8 million of which is still owed.100 The World Bank responded to the devastating AIDS crisis by giving loans of US$50 million from 1993. Just as with drought, giving loans rather than grants to deal with a crisis such as AIDS is morally unacceptable and economically inappropriate. The World Bank evaluation of the project ignores any discussion of the economic suitability of a loan, simply saying economic and financial rates of return were “not calculated for the project”.101 Overall the World Bank evaluated its own performance as “unsatisfactory” saying that: “For a long time, during project implementation the level of importance given to AIDS by Bank management was lower than it should have been.” 102 Yet we estimate this project still makes up US$55 million of Zimbabwe’s debt.
Uncovering Zimbabwe's Debt