IMF to Appoint its First Country Head for Zimbabwe in a Decade

The International Monetary Fund is appointing a resident representative in Zimbabwe for the first time in 10 years as the southern African country seeks to mend relations with the lender..

Christian Beddies is the IMF’s first appointment in Zimbabwe since 2004 when the Washington-based lender closed its office in the country, two officials with knowledge of the situation said, declining to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to media on the matter. Beddies has arrived in the country, one of the people said.

The IMF is “finalizing the process for appointing a resident representative in Harare,” who should be in place in July, the IMF said, without identifying the appointee.

Zimbabwe has been in default to the IMF since 1999, former Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last year. The government said in March it will make a “token payment” to the IMF as the country works on a program to reduce its debt.

President Robert Mugabe’s government is trying to spur the recovery of the economy, which shrank by 40 percent between 2000 and 2008. The IMF estimated that the country’s inflation rate reached 500 billion percent in 2008 after the seizure of white-owned commercial farms disrupted exports of crops including tobacco and roses.

In 2009 the country abandoned its currency in favor of the dollar and the South African rand to tame inflation.

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