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Can Zimbabwe's economy recover? - 2002-04-03

A Zimbabwean professor says his country needs an international economic bail-out but warns that is unlikely to happen without political change.

Tony Hawkins is head of the School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe. He says economic output has been falling for the past four years, down fifteen to twenty percent; and he expects another drop this year of at least ten to twelve percent. He says inflation is out of control at 116 percent, with rising unemployment and a steep decline in agriculture production. He blames most of the problems on the country’s political situation.

Professor Hawkins outlines his economic proposals in the latest issue of “Focus,” which is published by the Helen Suzman Foundation. From an economic viewpoint, he says, the outcome of the recent presidential election could hardly have been worse. He believes Zimbabwe will not be able to go it alone economically but says the World Bank, IMF and donor countries won’t offer assistance unless President Mugabe agrees to political reconciliation. Britain, the United States, the Commonwealth and others have said the recent elections were not free and fair. The Commonwealth has suspended Zimbabwe for at least a year.

Professor Hawkins rejects President Mugabe’s claim that much of the country’s problems stem from the effects of colonialism, saying Zimbabwe had more economic potential when it gained independence in 1980 than it does now. Professor Hawkins spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the state of Zimbabwe’s economy.