Reigning in inflation, lowering unemployment rates and democratizing its political system are among the many positive steps Zimbabwe's Finance Minister says his country has recently taken.  But Tendai Biti says to sustain such change, Zimbabwe will need the help of the international community. 

The year 2009 closed a decade of political, economic and social turmoil in Zimbabwe. 

But during a visit to Washington, Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti said improvements implemented last year helped to open a new chapter for his country.  He says after 12 years of shrinking, Zimbabwe's economy grew by about four percent in 2009.  

Biti says on average, inflation for the year was negative.  He also notes market capitalization of Zimbabwe's stock exchange was more than $4 billion, and its returns made it the most competitive exchange in Africa. 

But Biti says the country will need help to sustain the progress it has made.

"The only way you can have democracy and real change in difficult places such as Zimbabwe is if the government itself is able to deliver," he said. "But delivery requires resources, and we don't have resources.  Therefore, engagement becomes essential."

He says this engagement needs to come from the international community, and the country cannot continue to recover without clearing its $6-billion debt.

"We need to transform the Zimbabwean economy," said Biti. "We need to modernize the Zimbabwean economy.  But we cannot do that without a fund of at least $8-billion, and therefore, we are appealing for a modern day George Marshall [the man who formulated the plan for the rebuilding of Europe after WWII]."

He says Zimbabwe is calling on its creditors to eliminate the money it owes them.  If the debt can be erased, Biti says his country's political, economic and social prospects will continue to improve.