Mswati calls for help to fund Zim’s economic recovery

HARARE - Swaziland's King Mswati III led African calls on the international community to help fund Zimbabwe's economic recovery following the signing on Monday of a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition.

Mswati, who heads the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s organ on defence and politics, urged Western nations to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe’s government and instead avail all “possible financial support” to help the country’s comatose economy recover.

“We call on the international community to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe and provide all possible financial support for the rebuilding of Zimbabwe,” said Mswati, who was part of African leaders and high-ranking dignitaries who gathered in Harare to witness the signing of the power-sharing pact.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao said the agreement between Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara provided a platform for the bloc to also chip in with help to revive Zimbabwe’s once brilliant economy.

Salamao told ZimOnline that the SADC, which tasked South African President Thabo Mbeki to broker the power-sharing deal, had in place a fund to help with Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. He did not give figures.

He said: “There is no doubt that the signing of this deal will provide that much needed momentum for us to help kick start the economy of Zimbabwe. We have done studies on the Zimbabwean economy and have put in place a fund to help finance the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy.”

Mugabe remains president while Tsvangirai becomes prime minister and Mutambara his deputy in a government of national unity that will work to extricate Zimbabwe from an economic crisis marked by the world’s highest inflation of more than 11 million percent, chronic shortages of food and every basic survival commodity.

Analysts say the power-sharing agreement is fragile given deep-seated animosity among the signatories.

The unity government could only succeed depending on how much the players are able to put aside their mistrust of each other and work closely to win the confidence and more importantly support from Western powers whose financial support will be vital for recovery, according to analysts.

Reacting to the signing of the deal the European Union (EU) said on Monday that it would put on hold any decision about its sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to first assess the power-sharing agreement.

Before the deal, the EU had planned to add this week more names to a list of Zimbabwean officials whose assets are frozen and who are banned from travelling to Europe.

Announcing the bloc’s decision to hold on widening sanctions, EU foreign policy commissioner Javier Solana said: “We have to analyse, it’s still not clear what is going to be the outcome of the agreement.”

The EU, United States and other Western nations have since 2002 maintained sanctions against Mugabe’s government as punishment for his controversial seizure of white farmland for redistribution to landless blacks, failure to uphold the rule of law, human rights and democracy.

The British government said it was ready to support the new government in Harare but would wait to see how the power-sharing agreement is implemented on the ground before it could decide whether to channel aid to the southern African country.

“In principle we stand ready to support Zimbabwe’s new administration, to bring about much-needed change, but the extent and nature of our support will be determined by the actions that the new administration takes on the ground,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesperson said on Monday. – ZimOnline

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