Zimbabwe : World Bank Says 'We have failed'

Publisher Name: 
Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- A World Bank official admitted
Wednesday the institution's policies in Zimbabwe had failed,
ironically blaming the failure on the government's willingness to
follow its instructions as "per book."

World Bank Representative to Zimbabwe, Rogier van den Brink, told
a seminar on Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative,
that the policies the Bretton Woods institution had prescribed to the
government had failed to stimulate the economy and improve the social
lives of the people.

"I have been asked by ministers, ordinary people and business
people whether our policies have worked and I really have to admit
that we have failed," he said.

The World Bank concentrated on funding social development
programmes in Zimbabwe, while its counterpart, the International
Monetary Fund, mainly looked at fiscal and other economic policy
issues.

Van den Brink said Zimbabwe's economy, which is experiencing its
worst crisis characterised by shortages of foreign currency and a
record high inflation, can only be nursed to growth through
stimulating the small and medium scale business sectors and carrying
through land reforms to boost agriculture.

"What Zimbabwe needs are small to medium enterprises. There is
also need for ideal partnership between the government and labour if
the economy is to be revived," he said.

"In my view, the real revival of the economy lies in agriculture.
Currently most of the arable and fertile land is in the hands of only
one percent of the total population. If land is equitably distributed,
we will definitely see a change in the economy," he added.

But the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral donors
have criticised Zimbabwe for carrying out a controversial land reform
programme in which idle land was being taken over from white farmers
to resettle landless blacks.

More than 75,000 landless peasants have so far been resettled on
re-possessed land since last year, and the government says it plans to
move a total of half a million people on more than five million
hectares of land to be taken from white farmers.

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