Zimbabwe minister confident on IMF aid

MBABANE - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Monday he remained confident the International Monetary Fund would assist his country, despite the lender's concerns raised during a mission to Harare.

The IMF last week set conditions for any new lending, including the
government’s ability to rally donor support and settle more than 125
million dollars in arrears.

Biti told reporters on the sidelines of a regional summit in Swaziland,
where leaders are considering aid to Zimbabwe, that he believed the
global lender would eventually set the stage for new assistance.

"I am absolutely positive that they will write a report that says look,
Zimbabwe is bankable, there is a new brand that is being created here,"
Biti said.

"They express great pleasure with our macroeconomic framework," he said.

The erstwhile opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last month formed a
unity government with long-time ruler President Robert Mugabe.

The new cabinet has unveiled an economic recovery plan that slashed
price controls, eased import restrictions and made the South African
rand the currency of reference — after the local Zimbabwe dollar
collapsed in value, leaving it worthless.

The summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was
meeting to consider how to help Zimbabwe’s reconstruction, which the
government says will require 8.5 billion dollars over the next three

So far, regional leaders have made few concrete promises of aid, aside from pledging to help Zimbabwe win donor support.

"We are less concerned with the quantitative amounts that have been
pledged than with the principle" that SADC was accepting responsibility
for the power-sharing deal brokered by the bloc, Biti said.

Opening the summit, Swazi King Mswati III urged western countries to
end their sanctions on Zimbabwe, which Biti said he believed key donors
like the United States and Britain would do.

"They will join the party, not because we are asking them to, but
because what we are doing on the ground is a reflection that this an
irreversible process to change, this is an irreversible process to
democratisation," he said.

Yahoo/Agence France Presse (AFP)

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