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The African Development Bank yesterday said it will assist Zimbabwe in its re-engagement with multi-lateral financial institutions and lobby for the clearing of debt owed to various institutions.

Speaking after paying a courtesy call on President Mugabe at State House yesterday, the leader of the 10-member AfDB delegation, Mr Alieu Momodou Ngum from Gambia said Zimbabwe had great economic potential once it cleared its obligations with financial institutions.

“The AfDB attach great importance to this country and we gly believe that once the country clears the issues of debt arrears, then it has the potential to rise again,” said Mr Ngum.

The call to assist Zimbabwe comes in the wake of an appeal by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to the AfDB to mediate in Zimbabwe’s efforts to re-engage with multilateral financial institutions as well as clearing the country’s external debt. Mr Ngum confirmed that his group had discussed with Cde Chinamasa on how Zimbabwe can re-engage with international finance institutions.

“We are very much impressed because some us had never been here because as the saying goes ‘seeing is believing’. Now that we are here, we are able to see that what we have read and what we have found is different,” said Mr Ngum.

“I think all of us will be going back with comfortable memories of Zimbabwe.”

Mr Ngum said the purpose of the delegation’s courtesy call on President Mugabe was to brief him on the discussions held with the private sector and Government officials on the impact of the bank’s support in the lives of ordinary people.

He said the prospects for Zimbabwe’s turnaround were great because the country was at some point considered to be middle income and still prides itself of having the highest literacy rate in Africa and a very skilled workforce.

Mr Ngum said his team had also visited Mutare where they launched a Water and Sanitation Project built with the bank’s resources.

Zimbabwe has an external debt of around $7 billion and owes the AfDB $566 million.

Re-engagement with international finance institutions is viewed as critical for the revival of the Zimbabwean economy.

Source : The Herald