The United Kingdom has ended its lending drought for Zimbabwe by putting together a $100 million loan facility targeted at private sector companies.
It will be the first such commercial arrangement between London and Harare in more than 20 years following a freeze in relationship during the era of ousted leader Robert Mugabe.
According to the UK-based Financial Times, the loan facility is being arranged by the CDC Group, Britain’s development finance institution, in conjunction with Standard Chartered Bank.
This comes as relations between Harare and London continue to thaw since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe last November.
The former Zimbabwean leader bitterly fell out with the country’s former coloniser in the early 2000s over his land reform policies and human rights abuses.
CDC’s chief executive Nick O’Donohoe confirmed this by telling the Financial Times that they had been preparing the local deal from the day Mugabe was ousted.
“Zimbabwe’s economy has been shattered over the last two decades, yet holds real potential,” O’Donohoe said.
“If a new government in post-election Zimbabwe encourages investment and pro-business policies, Zimbabwe can be one of the great investment success stories of the next decade.”
The development has however been condemned by the opposition which prefers that foreign investors withhold financial support for President Mnangagwa’s administration pending the holding of credible elections this July.
“This attempt to put lipstick on a crocodile is most unfortunate,” said opposition MDC Alliance politician Tendai Biti, referring to President Mnangagwa’s nickname.
“The elections are only a few months away. Let’s see the quality of this election first.”