HARARE, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has maintained its 2017 growth forecast of 2.8 per cent for Zimbabwe while the central bank bemoans the country's continued isolation and sanctions which are impacting on ability to access "patient capital".

According to the IMF Regional Economic Outlook Report for Southern Africa launched on Monday, the Zimbabwean economy is estimated to grow by 0.8 per cent in 2018, which will be below the expected average for the region of 3.4 per cent.

The IMF first made the 2.8 per cent estimate for Zimbabwe's 2017 growth in July this year.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya said at the launch of the report that the government still expected the economy to expand by 3.7 per cent this year.

Dr Mangudya said sanctions which the United States and the European Union (EU) had imposed on Zimbabwe made it impossible for the country, which is in dire need of foreign direct investment (FDI) and access to cheap capital, to break the hold on the potential of its economy.

"The huge external debt, compounded by Zimbabwe's isolation, has made it difficult for us to secure patient capital," Mangudya said. "This economy requires patient capital for us to be able to grow and for us to get the funding we need to minimize the country risk and minimizing country risk means we need to continue to engage."

Estimates put Zimbabwe's financial requirements in excess of 30 billion US dollars to boost its economy.

Dr Mangudya said the sanctions were silently hitting the country's financial sector but were so smart that some Zimbabweans did not believe they existed. "You do not feel them in the streets of Zimbabwe, you feel them through the financial services sector where cross-border transactions are scrutinized much more than those for other African countries that are talking about compliance," he said.

"In Zimbabwe, it's beyond compliance. Ours is a special circumstance. At the end of the day, the people of Zimbabwe are divided. Are there sanctions or are there no sanctions? (But) they are there. Even those that believe there are no sanctions are also sanctioned."

He said the sanctions had also seen Zimbabwean banks losing their relationships with critical global correspondent banks that facilitate international transactions.


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