Tsvangirai for SA talks on $1bn rescue package

tsvangirai_speach_2.jpgPrime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
A week after taking office, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is leading a mission to SA today for "urgent" talks with President Kgalema Motlanthe on a $1bn (R10bn) assistance package to revive tha

Tsvangirai is also expected to ask Motlanthe, as chairman of the
Southern African Development Community, to pressure Mugabe for their
release. Tsvangirai will be accompanied by Zimbabwe's Finance Minister
Tendai Biti and Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi. Central bank
governor Gideon Gono, the architect of most of the disastrous monetary
policies that have led to the collapse of the currency and economy,
would not be at the meeting because of infighting in the week-old unity

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini- Zuma would be part of the meeting where the proposed $1bn aid
package, to be facilitated by SA through the African Development Bank,
would be discussed. A similar aid package was proposed by former
president Thabo Mbeki three years ago, on condition that there be
political and economic reform in Harare. That deal collapsed when
Mugabe rejected the conditions. The meeting comes ahead of the first
official visit to SA by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
who will discuss Zimbabwe, among other issues, with Motlanthe. Foreign
affairs director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba said today's meeting had been
requested by Tsvangirai, and that Motlanthe was likely to brief Ban on
today's discussions. Sources yesterday said that Tsvangirai believed
that if he was successful in leveraging further assistance from SA, it
would provide a confidence booster and would help him raise more money
from other donor countries. Last year SA provided R300m for
agricultural assistance. Harare faces a bill of more than $1bn for
outstanding payments for local and international obligations such as
fuel imports, electricity, short-term loans to foreign governments, the
propping up of parastatals and payment to public servants.

This week Biti authorised special allowances for public servants,
including soldiers, in US dollars, which ran up a bill of $30m. Biti
has not disclosed the source of the funds that he has used to make the
special payments – a move that has outraged the central bank. It is
understood that there is serious tension between Biti and Gono as Biti
– having spent just one week as finance minister – has already tried to
make radical changes. This week Biti took measures to review and
reverse Gono's policies in an effort to revive the collapsed economy
and mark a radical change from old policies. The reasons for the
conflict include payment of public servants in US dollars, the
licensing of traders to sell in foreign currenc y, giving new
operational guidelines to the stock exchange and directives to banks to
facilitate payment of public servants – all of which the central bank
is opposed to. Tsvangirai and Biti lobbied for Gono's removal, but
Mugabe has defended him, creating a potentially explosive situation.
Until recently the banks had limited permission to open foreign
currency accounts for the public, but Biti has directed them to open
foreign exchange accounts for at least 250000 public servants who were
paid $100 allowances this week. Indications are public servants would
again be paid in foreign currency.

From iafrica.com (SA)

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *