Positive, not punitive: Senator

A congressional committee in the United States is expected to approve a new law this week offering economic help to Zimbabwe.

Debt relief, a new deal with the International Monetary Fund aid money and support for the inclusive government are all on the table.

But there are two main conditions: the US wants free and fair presidential elections, a break with the past of disorder and chaos and respect for the rule of law.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says the economy needs a $10 billion stimulus package to undo the damage caused by a decade of economic meltdown caused by ruinous policies.

The Zimbabwe Sanctions Repeal Act of 2011 has won unanimous support from the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives.

US Senator James Inhofe advocated “more carrot than stick”. "We are trying to be positive rather than punitive. It should be an incentive for the elections to be run right," the senator said.

"We will move for a rapid removal of sanctions," he said, "therefore Zimbabwe would get immediate relief. As soon as the bill is passed, the Caucus will start talking to the multinational development banks.

He admitted it had been difficult to get consensus from the Black Caucus in Congress. But he said they had overcome the hurdle of opposition from African American members of the International Relations Committee.

The law was meant to update US policy in line with the changes ushered in the GNU. Section 4(c) of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 specifically directed the financial institutions to oppose any extension of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the government of Zimbabwe; or any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the government to the US or any international financial institution.

The Senator said repealing the targeted sanctions imposed under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 that burdened the power-sharing government in Zimbabwe was necessary to fully restore the economy of Zimbabwe; and to assist Zimbabwe in its transition to democracy.

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