AFRICA

ZIMCODD collaborates with Arts Sector for Debtweek 2011

Harare, 6 October 2011 –  The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) will be commemorating the second Debtweek in Zimbabwe from 12 to 15 October with the theme, “No Loans for us without us.” The commemoration will be a collaborative effort with artists from the theatre sector. Debtweek otherwise known as the annual ‘Global Week on Debt and IFIs’ is a week of citizens’ actions and mobilizations worldwide, around the issue of unsustainable public debt and its negative impacts on the citizens and economies of poor countries globally.

This year’s commemoration will centre on the play also entitled, “No Loans for US without US” which was produced by Savannah Arts Trust. The play will be showcased at Theatre in the Park daily during the Debtweek days. The play is a professional and insightful work of art, which emphasises the need for citizens and their elected representatives to be consulted in matters relating to their economy. The specific issue under focus is public finance management, in particular the contraction, management and payment of public debts.

Public debt is the sum of amounts borrowed by a national government and autonomous public bodies from lenders within or outside the country.

As the play will show, unsustainable levels of public debt stand in the way of citizens’ enjoyment of their social and economic rights.  Citizens of poor countries suffer an opportunity cost as debts have to be paid off at the expense of financing the Millennium Development Goals. As Dr Adebayo Adedeji once said, “Debt is tearing down schools, clinics, hospitals and the effects are no less devastating than war.”

A number of poor countries have benefited from several frameworks to reduce their debt levels over the years. However recent research shows that the same countries are contracting debt all over again to unsustainable levels. Others are unable to stabilise or grow their economies because past debts stand in the way.

It is the responsibility of governments towards their citizens to establish what size of loan is necessary or desirable for a specific project or programme, and to negotiate beneficial and sustainable terms of repayment, and to account for the project or programme’s success. However, reality shows that citizens remain liable for debts through the taxes they pay, regardless of whether they were aware of the debts or not, and whether the loan proceeds were used properly or misused, such that they did not benefit the country. In many cases, elected officials representing the people do not participate in the process of negotiating the terms and conditions of new loans.

The result is that the lenders play a dominant role in assessing the need for a loan, and its terms and conditions. The terms of the loans may are often too harsh to bring about social and economic improvement as creditors impose misplaced conditionalities, setting their own priorities instead of following those of the borrowing country’s citizens.

As concerned citizens observe the fifth commemoration of Debtweek worldwide from 8 to 15 October, citizens’ expression will therefore be used to highlight the idea that creditors, and borrowing governments need to be transparent, inclusive, and accountable to citizens throughout the process of negotiating, contracting and repaying loans.

The play by Savannah Arts Trust, which made its debut at the inaugural commemoration of Debtweek in 2010, makes its return to a public audience, to enlighten audiences and continue debate on this critical issue.

ZIMCODD – ZIMBABWE

Contact: Dakarayi Matanga <dakarayi@zimcodd.co.zw>
Date: 2011/10/12

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