In spite of the gains made so far, her main
With the IMF tentatively assessing Zimbabwe’s future, civil society and politicians in that country are beginning to discuss the possibility of debt cancellation once the country is on a firmer footing. Already intense debate has begun as to the appropriateness of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) scheme to Zimbabwe, with many in civil society and the Movement for Democratic Change pushing for debt audits and cancellation on the basis of illegitimacy.
At a recent international donor conference in Berlin in October 2009, several donors called for Zimbabwe to be classified as a HIPC but there are problems with this: HIPC takes a long time and is tied to a whole range of controversial conditions. Perhaps most important, there will somewhat ironically be a significant increase in the external debt service burden over the short-term as Zimbabwe is forced to clear its arrears to the multilaterals – an essential step to HIPC status. Sometimes donors fund this, but often with loans, leading to large amounts of new debt not covered by the debt cancellation process. Some political analysts in the country have argued that there are two possible routes for the country:
1) the HIPC Initiative
2) the ‘look-East’ option, i.e. to mortgage Zimbabwe’s significant natural resources to emerging lenders which do not exert policy conditionalities on the country.
According to the IMF, Zimbabwe is already in “debt distress”. As at the end of 2008 Zimbabwe’s public and publicly guaranteed (PPG) external debt stood at $5.1 billion. In relative terms, Zimbabwe’s external debt is approximately 166 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 320 percent of annual export receipts.
Taken from Jubilee Debt Campaign policy Update December 2009
So many people from United Reformed Churches all over the country marched at London or Glasgow for the big Wave event before the UN Summit in Copenhagen. If the government needed clarification that climate change is an issue people feel strongly about, they will be in no doubt now. To see images of URC campaigners, go to www.cforl.org.uk and click on the photo of Revd David Coleman on the home page.
Copenhagen was a failure by the rich countries to deliver the emission cuts and finance needed to secure a legally-binding agreement. Instead there was a weak ‘Copenhagen Accord’ that has not even been agreed by all countries, and which is completely inadequate in addressing the urgent climate change crisis. This lack of political will is a huge blow to the world’s poorest. With such a weak outcome in Copenhagen we need to make sure we do not let up on the campaigning. Christian Aid, as part of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, are asking you to email Gordon Brown at http://act.christianaid.org.uk/eacampaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=48&ea.campaign.id=5318
Campaigning for climate justice will continue in 2010. We are all needed to continue the fight to ensure the world’s poorest do not carry the burden of a problem they did not create.
How about encouraging a young person in your community or church to do something really life changing? Platform2 is a global volunteering scheme for 18 to 25 year olds who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit a developing country and get involved with global issues of justice and poverty. For more details go to: www.christianaid.org.uk/getinvolved/volunteer/Platform2/index.aspx
Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us. www.cforl.org.uk