SADC ministers seek donor help for Zim

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cape Town - Finance Ministers from countries belonging to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have agreed to engage bilateral and multi-lateral donors to help Zimbabwe recover from its economic and humanitarian situation.

The ministers are also expected to try to normalise Zimbabwe's status at the International Monetary Fund.

Briefing the media at the close of a two-day SADC Council of Ministers Conference in Cape Town on Friday, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said SADC was considering the investment of US$2-billion into Zimbabwe's reconstruction.

This is despite the effects the global economic down-turn is having on developing nations.

An estimated two-thirds of Zimbabweans are in need of food aid and more than 80 000 people have been infected and 3 800 have died from cholera as a result of collapsed basic infrastructure.

Certain media reports have quoted Finance Minister Trevor Manuel saying that Zimbabwe needs $1 billion to kick start its retail sector as well as reopen schools and restore health and municipal services.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who headed the country's large delegation at the SADC meeting, said there has been skeptism from the international community on how the country would use the money.

Ms Dlamini Zuma said SADC was confident that that the government of Zimbabwe would use the money wisely. "As SADC we believe it would indeed be used for the purpose it was intended for."

The meeting had resolved to convene an extraordinary summit of SADC Heads of States to consider the financial proposals submitted by Zimbabwe and the finance ministers.

The minister said the meeting would be held before the upcoming G20 meeting in April. The venue and date has not been agreed on yet.

President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka said Zimbabwe would have to settle it's $460 million existing debt before it could major foreign aid.

He said Zimbabwe's debt to the international community was is the region of $5 billion and by next year would be closer to $6 billion.

"What is owed to the international financial institutions must be settled in advance, before we move in. That can be done fairly quickly."

However, he said the situation is complex but doable. On Wednesday, Mr Kaberuka told BuaNews that the bank was considering holding donor meetings for the country.