Subnational Capital Markets in Developing Countries: From Theory to Practice

By John Petersen; Mila Freire | Go to book overview

Chapter 19
Sub-Saharan Africa
Zimbabwe

A centrally prescribed and unsustainable credit market
succumbs to political and economic turmoil
.

Roland White and Matthew Closer


Lessons

Although Zimbabwe neighbors South Africa, its recent experi-
ence in local government borrowing is very different from that
country’s. In Zimbabwe local government borrowing has been
premised on a policy and regulatory regime—most evident in
central government guarantees and prescribed assets for insti-
tutional investors—that is inimical to the development of sus-
tainable municipal credit markets. The country’s two largest
cities have been able to successfully issue a limited volume of
securities for many years, but this has come at the cost of accu-
mulating liabilities for the central government and significant fi-
nancial losses for investors. When a default by Harare in 1998
prompted the government to withdraw its implicit guarantee of
local bond issues, interest rates immediately jumped, making
local government borrowing prohibitively expensive. Not until
2001 did the central government again begin to underwrite mu

-337-

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