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Two Steps Backwards For Zimbabwe

And Why the IMF Can’t Help

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe officiates the 29th Independence Celebrations at the National Stadium in Harare, April 18, 2009. Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters

On September 30, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the second stage of its review of Zimbabwe’s progress toward economic reform. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whose rule since 1980 has been defined by widespread fear, economic ruin, and anti-Western bombast, and who for more than a decade has refused to repay Zimbabwe’s debts, is now hoping to normalize the country’s relationship with its creditors.

Zimbabwe’s new campaign to resolve its $9 billion debt problem is perhaps a positive sign. After all these years, Mugabe could finally be willing to fulfill his country’s obligations and reengage with the international community. At least that’s how the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank are interpreting Mugabe’s latest moves, and they are reportedly proceeding with a debt arrears clearance plan for the government. But Mugabe’s proposed plan seems more of a mix of accounting maneuvers and

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