Tsvangirai: Zim’s road to recovery could cost $5bn

morgan_tsvangirai_2.jpgPrime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
Repairing Zimbabwe's battered economy could cost as much as $5-billion, said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday, adding the country is looking to attract direct foreign investment to

Meeting South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and Finance Minister
Trevor Manuel to discuss a recovery strategy, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe
planned to use a number of currencies but was not considering adopting
the rand as legal tender.

"As for the long-term economic recovery it has not been assessed …
but I think it would run into billions of dollars, maybe as high as
$5-billon," Tsvangirai said at a news briefing.

Zimbabwe’s new government, formed between Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change party and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, is faced
with resolving an economic meltdown manifesting itself in
hyperinflation which has seen prices double every day.

Tsvangirai, acompanied by Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti, said
Harare had to look at ways to encourage foreign direct investment.

"Obviously as a country that is emerging from such a dire situation,
foreign direct investment is one of the areas of focus … anything
that is inhibitive for foreign direct investment … has to be
reviewed," Tsvangirai said.

"Our currency is devalued almost to a point of non-use, so we are going
to use a multi-currency approach … But at the moment there is no talk
about the randification [of the currency]. It is a multi-currency
facility we are looking at," said Tsvangirai.

Motlanthe said earlier this month Zimbabwe, which is grappling with
inflation of 200-million percent, could adopt the rand, but he did not
give details.

The rand is already widely used on Zimbabwe’s black market, alongside the US dollar.

Bennett to get bail

Tsvangirai announced at the press briefing on Friday that it had been
agreed between himself, President Robert Mugabe and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara that Roy Bennett and other "abductees" should
be released on bail.

Bennett was designated as deputy minister of agriculture in the unity
government but was not able to be sworn in because he was arrested as
he arrived back in the country.

The prime minister told journalists that he was still in custody,
however, because there was agreement that the law must take its course.
"There are other more important things to be dealt with," he said.

Cholera cases top 80 000

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday that more
than 80 000 people have now been infected with cholera in Zimbabwe’s
six-month-old outbreak which has killed 3 759.

About half of the patients who died from the water-borne diarrhoeal
disease failed to reach any of the country’s 365 cholera treatment
centres, the United Nations agency said.

The proportion of deaths has been decreasing steadily since early
January, but the fatality rate remains above the acceptable level in
such an epidemic, according to the WHO.

The deadliest cholera outbreak in Africa in 15 years has also spread to neighbouring countries, including South Africa.

The intestinal infection spreads through contaminated food and water
and can cause severe dehydration and death without proper treatment.
While cholera is both preventable and treatable, an economic and
political crisis in Zimbabwe has caused the near-collapse of health

"Given the outbreak’s dynamic, in the context of a dilapidated water
and sanitation infrastructure and a weak health system, the practical
implementation of control measures remains a challenge," the WHO said.
— Reuters and I-Net Bridge

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