, HARARE, June 15 – The head of an International Monetary Fund team arrived in Zimbabwe Monday to assess the coalition government’s economic policies and the country’s still enormous humantarian needs, officials said.
"The IMF staff mission will look into the country’s economic performance since the setting up of the incluisve government in February," an official close to the delegation told AFP.
"The delegation will, among other things, hold meetings with government officials and representatives of industry."
The IMF mission is the third since the start of the year, and follows the fund’s decision last month to resume technical aid to Zimbabwe, which for years had been barred any assistance.
The rest of the IMF team will arrive within a week, and the mission is set to wrap up its work on June 29, officials said.
According to the IMF, the team will assess foreign exchange inflows and the state of international reserves and will meet with the World Food Programme about the country’s food needs.
The mission will also discuss the United Nation’s 718-million-dollar humanitarian appeal that includes food aid for six million Zimbabweans — about half the population.
In February, long-time rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed an inclusive government following a deal brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
The new government is seeking 8.5 billion dollars to revive the shattered economy and the civil service, including schools and hospitals, but major Western nations have withheld aid demanding to see more significant political reforms.
Tsvangirai met Friday with US President Barack Obama at the White House, but left with little new aid.
To date, the new government has raised over one billion dollars mostly coming from African organisations, but that includes little direct financial support of the government.
The southern African country currently owes the IMF 133 million US dollars.
According to the IMF, Zimbabwe’s economy has been shrinking for years, contracting by 6.1 percent in 2007. This year, the finance ministry predicts the economy will grow by at least four percent.