23 April 2009
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is to lead a team of his ministers on an international tour to lure Western countries to invest in Zimbabwe.
South African Foreign Affairs director-general Ayanda Ntsaluba told journalists in Pretoria on on Tuesday that Tsvangirai and his team would visit the major Western nations to see if they would partner in assisting Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s unity government, comprising President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, is seeking around US$8.5-billion from international donors for its short-term emergency recovery programme.
However, international donors have said they will only dispense aid once there is clear evidence of real change within the shattered country.
The United States and European Union maintain visa bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies linked to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, as well as embargoes on the sale of arms and equipment that could be used for internal repression.
Ntsaluba said the region had begun to see progress under the new government, though it was still in the early stages. “We continue to be encouraged by progress the inclusive government is making. We get a sense of greater coherence and commitment by all parties involved.”
He added that South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) remained committed to assisting in resolving the economic crisis in that country.
“South Africa will help in alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable in terms of targeted sectors like health and education and in terms of a credit line,” Ntsaluba said.
The South African government is currently in discussions to determine how much it is prepared to give to Zimbabwe. “We’d prefer not to say how much is involved as discussions are still under way,” Ntsaluba said.
He added that it was vital for other SADC countries to join in helping Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma on Monday declared the Zimbabwe dollar a dead currency. He said it could be returned as a different currency, or as notes, once inflation was under control.
“The Zimbabwe dollar is dead,” Mangoma said. “It is no longer being printed and not likely to be used for a year at least.”
Speaking in Pretoria, Mangoma, who was in South Africa to lure local business to invest in Zimbabwe, said officially the rand was the most favoured currency for trade while the US dollar, the Botswana pula and British pound were also allowed.
Mangoma said the role of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the powers of its governor had been reviewed and considerably reduced so that they no longer determine and pioneer economic policies and direction.
“It is the unity government that has agreed on the macro-economic framework and will be driving its implementation,” Mangoma said, assuring South African businesses that his government would protect their investments.
A deal with the South African government on the protection of investments according to international conventions was also being finalised.