SADC ministers to meet over Zim recovery plan

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cape Town - Finance Ministers from countries belonging to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are to convene in Cape Town on Wednesday to discuss the financial package needed to jump-start Zimbabwe's economy, among others issues.

The meeting will be held ahead of the SADC Council of Ministers' conference which opens in the same city on Thursday.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti is to lead a Zimbabwe delegation to meeting.

South African President and SADC Chairperson Kgalema Motlanthe at the weekend called for the special meeting to develop a plan to help Zimbabwe following Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai requesting financial aid as a short-term plan to address the economic crisis in that country.

The pair met in Pretoria on Friday, where Mr Tsvangirai indicated it would take at least US$5 billion to resuscitate Zimbabwe's economy.

President Motlanthe said the financial aid package to Zimbabwe to help reconstruction in that country would not affect South Africa's budget.

South Africa has reiterated that sanctions instituted against Zimbabwe need to be removed so that trade with that country can resume. Many countries in the world including the European Union (EU) have sanctions in place against Zimbabwe.

The government of national unity in Zimbabwe has been successfully established. President Robert Mugabe has remained in his position, with Mr Tsvangirai sworn in as his prime minister and Dr Arthur Mutambara as the deputy prime minister.

The Council of Ministers meeting will focus on analysing the regional situating, including foot-and-mouth disease in the region, the construction of the new SADC headquarters and the implementation of the assessment of functions as well as recommendations to be submitted for approval by the council.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said South Africa would participate in both the ministerial meeting and the summit as part of its priority to strengthen and consolidate SADC as a sub-regional economic vehicle for achieving sustainable regional integration and development.

SADC's 14 member countries are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

They have a population estimated at over 200 million inhabitants, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the SADC's 14 member countries is above $220 billion.