Time to trust Zimbabwe's new government?

BY LOUISE DUNNE
zim_flag.jpgSenior Zimbabwean politicians are on a charm offensive, trying to persuade donor countries that the new unity government is stable and deserves support. Progress has already been made since the government was formed in February they say - and what the country needs now is a little help fro

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti met senior US officials in
Washington last Friday – but came away empty handed, with the White
House insisting that more progress was needed before the flow of aid
could be resumed.

Progress

Two other Zimbabwean Ministers were in the Netherlands over the
weekend, with the message that yes, the country is damaged – but
recovery is already underway. According to Industry and Commerce
Minister Welshman Ncube:

"So far [the new unity government] has made tremendous progress in the
short life it has had. It has brought back hope to the people of
Zimbabwe, started on some democratic reforms, started on economic
reforms. Things are now on the right track."

His colleague Elton Mangoma, Minister for Economic Planning and Investment, agreed:

"We have started well. There are of course challenges, there are still
farm invasions taking place. We have now had all the political
prisoners released, which is a huge plus on the side of the inclusive
government. There’s still a lot of work to be done but much of the
foundation work has already been done."

Show of faith

As a result, Minister Ncube believes its time for donor countries to
show faith in the new government. Zimbabwe is fragile he says, and
needs urgent assistance.

Minister Mangoma is also keen to point out that despite the problems,
Zimbabwe is in a good position to recover quickly, if help from
investors and donors is forthcoming.

"It’s not totally dysfunctional…the infrastructure is there, the
infrastructure is there. With the sound economic policies we have put
in place, with a little money by way of credit lines, a little support
for the utilities, we can be on our way very quickly."

Looking ahead

And while there’s considerable concern abroad about the long-term
stability of the unity government, both men are upbeat about the
future. What Zimbabwe needs now, says Mr Mangoma, is a little help from
its friends.

"We will succeed with or without international support. But without it,
it will be painful, it will be slow it will be long. But with
international support we will move very quickly to a different
Zimbabwe. A democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe, which respects human
rights, which respects the rule of law… And we are saying to the
international community, help us achieve this, by giving us the
capacity to do the things we have committed ourselves to do."

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