Johannesburg - The International Monetary Fund has appointed a resident representative in Zimbabwe for the first time in 10 years.

Christian Beddes is the IMF’s first appointment in Zimbabwe since 2004 when the Washington-based lender closed its office in the country, officials with knowledge of the situation said, declining to be identified because they aren’t authorised to speak to media on the matter.

Beddies has arrived in the country, one of the people said.

Zimbabwe has been in default to the IMF since 1999, former Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last year.

The government said in March it will make a “token payment” to the IMF as the country works on a program to reduce its debt.

President Robert Mugabe’s government is trying to spur the recovery of the southern African nation’s economy, which shrank by 40 percent between 2000 and 2008.

The IMF estimated that the country’s inflation rate reached 500 billion percent after the seizure of white-owned commercial farms disrupted exports of crops including tobacco and roses.

The IMF forecasts that economic growth will accelerate to 4.2 percent this year from 3 percent last year. - Bloomberg News