Southern African ministers Thursday opened a meeting in Cape Town,
South Africa aimed at drafting a plan to help Zimbabwe's economic
recovery. The recently installed unity government reportedly has
requested $2 billion in aid for this year from the regional group.
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma opened the ministerial meeting
of the Southern African Development Community by welcoming the creation
of the new government in Zimbabwe. She said it paved the way for
national reconciliation, economic recovery and reconstruction.
SADC, it is our responsibility together with the international
community to accompany the Zimbabwe people as they endeavor to address
their economic challenges as well as the humanitarian problems," she
She called on western governments to lift sanctions which
were imposed on Zimbabwe because of authoritarianism and human rights
South Africa's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told
national radio that Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had
proposed a $2 billion SADC recovery package. He said about $1 billion
would go to stimulate the economy and trade and $1 billion would aim to
revive health, education and public services.
has declined by 40 percent in the past 10 years. The unemployment rate
is 80 percent. And there are shortages of basic goods.
addition, humanitarian groups are struggling to control a cholera
epidemic that has infected more than 80,000 people and killed 3,800.
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs,
Catherine Bragg, ended a five-day visit to Zimbabwe Thursday with a
graphic assessment of the humanitarian situation there.
tremendous efforts to contain one of the world's worst cholera
outbreaks in recent times major challenges remain," she said. "There
are areas where results of our concerted efforts can be seen in a
declining number of new infections, but there are many places which
have not been reached with the required services and where cholera
continues to spread."
She said in order to prevent the spread of
cholera and other diseases a major overhaul was needed of health, water
and sanitation systems.
The U.N. official added that Zimbabwe's economic crisis was causing increasing hunger around the country.
food security situation usually improves in March and April after which
the need for food aid generally declines," said Bragg. "But we continue
to see serious challenges. A growing number of households are reducing
the number of meals they have per day. This indicates the people's
coping mechanisms are stretched."
Bragg added that Zimbabwe's
schools, which have been mostly closed for the past year, also needed
considerable aid in order to re-open.
The U.N. visit came two
weeks after the inauguration of Zimbabwe's unity government which
brought long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai into government
as prime minister with President Robert Mugabe remaining as head of
Mr. Tsvangirai Wednesday praised several ministries for
paying workers. Many of them had been striking over low or unpaid
But he said Mr. Mugabe had appointed numerous senior
officials and diplomats without consulting him, which violated the
accord that created the unity government.
And Mr. Tsvangirai
also criticized the president's allies for blocking the release of
several dozen political prisoners, saying such violations were
hindering reforms that were so desperately needed.
Mr. Mugabe in
an interview with the government-owned Herald newspaper Thursday
indicated such appointments were legal because they had been made
before the launch of the new government. He also said the current
government was an interim arrangement that could lead to a new
constitution and elections within two years.