African Development Bank praises Zimbabwe economic recovery plan

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has made an impressive start on an economic recovery plan which warrants support from the international community, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka said on Thursday.

He also told reporters on the sidelines of a summit of southern African finance ministers that the AfDB was prepared to set up a donor meeting for Zimbabwe but said the country’s $5 billion foreign debt needed to be cleared to secure more aid.

Zimbabwe’s new power-sharing government will be heavily dependent on foreign aid and investment to salvage the country’s ruined economy.

But Western donors have made it clear money will pour in only when a democratic government is created and bold economic reforms implemented.

"It will require that Zimbabwe comes forward with a credible economic programme. Now the first steps I have seen, listening to (Zimbabwean Finance) Minister Tendai Biti is quite impressive and it merits support," Kaberuka said.

The new administration urgently needs to tackle an economic meltdown that has led to the world’s highest inflation, food shortages and a cholera epidemic.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said last week it would cost as much as $5 billion to repair the economy.