We have no capacity to help Zimbabwe, we're not a Bank – South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – South African Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, says that his country does not have the financial capacity to sponsor Zimbabwe's economic recovery plan, can only talk to developed countries to come to the aid of their northern neighbour.\r\n

Zimbabwe is going though an unprecedented economic crisis, which has spanned more than a decade and is being blamed on the populist policies of President Robert Mugabe and corrupt members of his cabinet.

Mugabe inherited the erstwhile bread basket of Southern Africa from Britain in 1980, and has during the past 29 years driven it into being the world’s fastest shrinking economy outside a war zone.

MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who became the country’s Prime Minister under the current national unity government formation that is ruling the country, and his party’s secretary general, Tendai Biti – the new finance Minister, recently travelled to South Africa to seek financial aid that would help revive Zimbabwe ‘s economy.

However, Manuel said this week that South Africa , cannot afford to bankroll Zimbabwe ‘s recovery.

"We are not a bank, we are poor. Part of what we are doing is speaking to wealthy countries and getting them to help," said Manuel, who appealed to Australia and the United Kingdom for the aid.

The government of Zimbabwe faces a variety of difficult economic problems as it struggles to reverse an unsustainable fiscal deficit and hyperinflation.

The government’s ill-fated land reform program of 2000, characterized by chaos and violence, badly damaged the commercial farming sector, the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange.

Support from the IMF has been suspended because of the government’s arrears on past loans.

"We also need to stimulate the Zimbabwe economy and get the farmers to produce so we can get a significant improvement in the quality of the lives of the people." Manuel added.