Desperate Zim carves bigger begging bowl

Moses Mudzwiti

Country says it now needs $8-billion

ZIMBABWE, buoyed by initial support from regional neighbours, has revised its request for urgent financial assistance from the Southern African Development Community upwards to $8-billion (R77.7-billion).

But President Robert Mugabe, who attended Monday's SADC conference
in Swaziland, does not enjoy complete political backing from the
15-member regional body.

Mugabe has also failed to get immediate relief from Western donors and
financial institutions, because of his country's bad credit record.
Zimbabwe owes the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the
African Development Bank collectively more than 1-billion. Zimbabwe's
hopes of survival are now firmly in the hands of the SADC.

Initially, Zimbabwe's new unity government asked SADC to help it raise 2-billion to tackle the country's failed social services.

But yesterday, Zimbabwe put forward a revised request for financial assistance.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said SADC was
reviewing a Zimbabwean recovery plan requiring that financial

Last week, Minister of Finance Tendai Biti revealed that Zimbabwe's
woes were worse than initially estimated. He said Zimbabwe now needed
at least 8-billion to revive its comatose economy.

Hospitals, schools, roads, water and sanitation were in need of urgent
attention. Most Zimbabweans are on the verge of starvation.

The UN estimates that about $7million of the country's 9million people
are in dire need of food aid. Biti said running the government was
costing $100-million a month way above its monthly 20-million revenue
collected. We need help, Biti said.

Yesterday, the US said it would only assist Zimbabwe to rebuild its economy if it met certain conditions. These included:

* The immediate release of all political prisoners;

* The end of farm seizures;

* The cessation of politically motivated violence;

* The establishment of a credible and transparent central bank team;

* An end to harassment and intimidation of the media, and

* A commitment to credible elections in a timely manner.

The Times (SA)

Post published in: News

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