As many of you on this platform know, I have been at the forefront, for several weeks, in asking for Debt Relief and Economic Impact Stimulus, on behalf of the African continent. In making these appeals, those of us who have called for these measures have used as our benchmarking, those measures that have been taken in the US, Europe, Asia and China.
So far I’m pleased that there has been growing support for these measures. At the last World Bank, IMF, and G20 meetings, many African countries secured debt relief by way of Standstills on interest payments which are valued at over $22bn. More than half that money has been disbursed already to countries in Africa, as it was sitting in “debt service accounts”.
These African countries can now urgently buy medical equipment, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep health and other essential workers safe. They can also train and pay doctors and nurses.
Three countries were conspicuous in their omission from any form of relief: Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Sudan. This is because they have sanctions.
I don’t want to get into the issues around how and why there are sanctions. Everyone knows that I personally had to flee my country, Zimbabwe, because of persecution, 20 years ago.
I have not been back since.
I’m not a politician, just an entrepreneur working day and night to create wealth and jobs.
I have not spoken to anyone in the governments of these countries, including that of Zimbabwe, with respect to this or any other matter.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an appeal for lifting of sanctions on any of these countries.
If you know one thing about me by now, it is that I’m not and have never been anyone’s messenger.
People also know that my wife and I (through our small family foundation) continue to do everything we can to try and help the people of Zimbabwe, including making many preparations to help prepare for the catastrophic impact of this pandemic. This is what we have done on every major crisis to befall the country over the last 20 years, including droughts, bus disasters, Cyclone Idai, two Cholera outbreaks, and education for over 250,000 orphans many of whom lost parents because of HIV/AIDs.
Alas, we are just private citizens, and our small efforts are just not enough. This particular crisis is just too big. We need help.
We are deeply concerned about the potential loss of life, if international aid does not come quickly, especially to address the needs of this pandemic. I would like to respectfully make a suggestion. Here is my big idea:
#. Creation of Special Purpose Trust Vehicles, under the leadership of independent people, including global humanitarians.
I would like to appeal to the World Bank, IMF, and other multilateral institutions, to create humanitarian Trusts for each country, which are managed by third parties, along the lines of the Global Fund.
I have consulted widely with experts, and many told me of numerous precedents, at the level of UN, IMF, World Bank, the EU, or even the US government itself.
The more countries that can contribute, even from China and our African brothers, the more credible it would be, as global compassion towards the peoples of these very poor nations.
I would urge them to consider seeding the Trusts with at least $500m, and inviting others including private philanthropy to participate.
In the case of Zimbabwe, I will personally contribute in a Trust, and encourage friends and partners to do the same.
The money would be used to provide urgently required medical supplies, training and remuneration for healthcare workers. It can also provide urgently needed repairs to hospitals and rural clinics across the country.
This is a humanitarian appeal.
Please help Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe’s people.
In God’s name please help these nations, before it is too late.
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