Businessman Strive Masiyiwa has appealed to the World Bank, the IMF and other multilateral institutions for humanitarian support for Zimbabwe and Sudan in the wake of the economic devastation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, several African countries received debt relief from multilateral institutions, but Zimbabwe and Sudan were left out.
“As many of you know, I have been at the forefront, for several weeks, in asking for debt relief and economic impact stimulus on behalf of the African continent,” he said.
“In making these appeals, those of us who have called for these measures have used as our bench-marking measures that have been taken in the US, Europe, Asia, and China.
“So far I am pleased that there has been growing support for these measures.”
At the last World Bank, IMF and G20 meetings, some African countries secured debt relief by way of “standstills” on interest payments, which are valued at over US$22 billion.
More than half of that money has been disbursed already to countries in Africa, as it was sitting in debt service accounts.
“These African countries can now urgently buy medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators,” Masiyiwa said.
“They can also train and pay doctors and nurses.”
Zimbabwe does not owe the IMF any money after using Special Drawing Rights to clear its debt.
Masiyiwa said Zimbabwe and Sudan had been left out because they were under sanctions.
“While I don’t want to get into the issues around how and why there are sanctions, everyone knows that I personally had to flee my country, Zimbabwe, because of persecution 20 years ago,” he said.
“I am not a politician, just an entrepreneur working day and night to create wealth and jobs across many African nations.
“I have not spoken to anyone in the governments of these countries, including that of Zimbabwe, with respect to this matter. I have no personal contact with the leaders of these governments.
“For the avoidance of doubt; this is not an appeal for the lifting of sanctions.
“People also know that my wife and I (through our small family foundation) continue to do everything we can to try and help the people of Zimbabwe, including making many preparations to help prepare for the catastrophic impact of this pandemic on the nation.”
Masiyiwa suggested the creation of a special purpose trust vehicle, under the leadership of independent people, including global humanitarians.
“I would urge them to consider seeding the trusts with at least $500m and inviting others including private philanthropy to participate,” he said.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, I will personally contribute to a trust and encourage friends and partners to do the same.
“The money would be used to provide urgently required medical supplies, training and remuneration for health care workers.
“We can also provide urgently needed repairs to hospitals and rural clinics across the country.”