Mugabe Says Zimbabwe Might Soon Cut Ties with IMF

Harare — President Robert Mugabe said on Sunday that Zimbabwe might soon cut ties with the International Monetary Fund, which he accused of being a tool to force political changes in countries unpopular with the West.

Mugabe — under pressure at home to quit over an economic crisis blamed on his 19-year-old government — also said he would take to the U.N. forum his charges that the United States and former colonial power Britain were interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

The Zimbabwean government last week denied reports in the state media that it was severing ties with the IMF and the World Bank, but Mugabe told the official Sunday Mail he was considering this although relations with the bank might survive.

In an interview with the newspaper on Zimbabwe’s 19th independence anniversary, Mugabe said the IMF was denying his southern African state balance-of-payments support although the government had met its conditions.

“Why should we continue to plead. The money is a loan and if you are going to go down on your knees and confess, as if to the Almighty, for your sins and they will say okay you have done wrong and can you now do this and that in the future,” he said. “For goodness sake, we are a sovereign country and we must not humiliate ourselves to that extent,” Mugabe said.

A few weeks ago Mugabe also accused the IMF of trying to impose tough decisions on Zimbabwe and hinted ties could be cut. “They are being political but of course we want to allow some time to advance before we actually come to a definite decision,” Mugabe said on state television.

The IMF has withheld $53 million in aid to Zimbabwe since last August, demanding transparency in government policies. The fund says it is mainly worried about Mugabe’s threats to seize mostly white-owned farmland to resettle landless blacks, paying only for developments but not for the land, which he argues was “stolen” by British colonists in the 1890s. The IMF has also questioned government spending on the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Mugabe has deployed over 6,000 troops to support President Laurent Kabila against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

Other Western donors have indicated resumption of IMF aid to the southern African country will unlock their own funds, which are seen vital to reviving a flagging economy. Analysts and government officials say although Mugabe — who is battling an economic crisis partly manifesting itself in record inflation and interest rates and regular violent street protests — could not afford to dump the IMF and World Bank, he could do it out of frustration.

Mugabe, 75, told the Sunday Mail he was ready to turn his back on the IMF because he believed it had lost its orientation, but he said he would stick with the World Bank “unless it proves to be exactly like the IMF monstrous creature.”

“Let that monstrous creature get out of our way. Unless I am prevailed upon to see things otherwise, not just by way of arguments, but I would rather, by something concrete that the IMF is doing or will be doing, I will lead my government in the direction where we dismiss the IMF as an institution that we can relate to, and that is coming very soon,” he said.

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