Mugabe Attending SADC Summit

HARARE – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe left Harare on Sunday for Swaziland for the SADC extraordinary Summit to consider an economic recovery package for Zimbabwe and the political situation in Madagascar.

The state controlled Chronicle on Monday said Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube were already in Swaziland as part of the advance team that attended the Council of Ministers meeting.

 

At the extraordinary summit held in Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania, two years ago, which began the process towards an inclusive Government in Zimbabwe, SADC leaders pledged an economic rescue package to help Zimbabwe undo the damage wrought by the illegal economic sanctions imposed by some Western nations.

The SADC Council of Ministers, who met in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this month, endorsed Zimbabwe’s request for a 2 billion U.S. dollars package split into two 1 billion disbursements.

The first 1 billion, which the finance ministers immediately pledged to mobilize after their Cape Town meeting, aims to stimulate retail and related industries; while the second tranche aims to boost social service delivery by addressing the dire situation in education, health, local authorities and infrastructure development.

The Zimbabwean Government said it needed the 2 billion dollars, half of it in the form of credit and the other half in the form of development budget support, to jump-start the economic recovery program.

The regional bloc has also expressed readiness to assist Zimbabwe normalize relations with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which cut off lines of credit to Zimbabwe as part of the illegal Western economic sanctions.

The IMF has since commended Government for taking positive steps towards restoration of relations with the multilateral lending institution.

In its report released last week after an Article IV Consultative Mission held from 9 to 24 March, the IMF Mission led by Mr Vitaliy Karamenko hailed Zimbabwe for taking steps towards reintegration into the international financial system: a development that might culminate in new loans for reconstruction and restoration of voting rights.

To this end SADC, along with the African Union, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and Non-Aligned Movement, has called for the lifting of the sanctions.

The extraordinary summit will also be seized with the turmoil in Madagascar where illegal regime change occurred two weeks ago.

SADC, through its chair, President Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa, has since condemned the unconstitutional transfer of power in Madagascar saying the bloc does not recognize the new leader, 34-year-old ex-DJ Andry Rajoelina.

The council of ministers proposed imposing sanctions against Rajoelina and the military top brass who helped him oust elected leader, Marc Ravalomanana who is exiled in Swaziland.