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Zimbabwe says will not borrow externally during IMF staff programme

HARARE, May 31 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will not borrow externally and will cut reliance on the central bank to finance budget deficits during an IMF staff programme ending next March in a bid to set a track record of fiscal discipline that could earn it future funding, the IMF said.

The southern African nation owes $8.8 billion to foreign lenders, $2.6 billion of this in arrears to the World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank and has not accessed financing from international institutions since defaulting on its debt in 1999.

Zimbabwe agreed to have its economic and political reforms monitored by the IMF from May 15 to March 15 next year in a bid to convince foreign donors to restructure and forgive its debt, which could ultimately lead to new funding. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Alison Williams)