SADC sets up taskforce to oversee Zimbabwe economic recovery

HARARE – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has set up a four-member task force – led by continental economic power house South Africa – to oversee Zimbabwe's economic recovery.\r\n

The establishment of the task force follows a request by Harare at a SADC summit in Swaziland on Monday for  US$10 billion to bankroll Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.

"The Extraordinary Summit established a Committee of SADC Ministers of Finance comprising South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Zimbabwe as well as the Executive Secretary of SADC to coordinate SADC support to the Zimbabwe recovery process," the regional bloc said in a final communique issued on Tuesday.

"The Extraordinary Summit urged Member States to support Zimbabwe to implement STERP, in the form of budget support, lines of credit, joint ventures and toll manufacturing.

Zimbabwe told the summit that it needed $8.5 billion for its Short Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP) over the next two to three years, with $1 billion for budget support and a $1 billion credit line.

STERP was announced two weeks ago by President Robert Mugabe, who last month formed a unity government with former opposition leader and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to reverse the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis.

The economic recovery plan seeks to bring down inflation to 10 percent by year end while bringing law and order to the mainstay agricultural sector where chaos reigns and farm invasions still occur despite formation of the unity government.

The 15-member regional bloc that brokered Zimbabwe’s power-sharing deal also tasked the Coordination Committee to urge Western countries to end sanctions on the southern African country.

"The Extraordinary Summit mandated the Coordination Committee to visit major capitals in Europe, Asia, and America as well as the major financial institutions to mobilise support for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme," the communiqué said.

All SADC diplomatic missions were mandated to stage a deliberate diplomatic campaign to lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe and mobilise resources to support Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme.

Western nations led by the United States (US) and Britain – Zimbabwe’s two biggest donors – have said they want Harare to submit a credible economic recovery programme and to implement genuine and comprehensive political and economic reforms before they can provide support as well as lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe and top officials of his ZANU PF party. 

Zimbabwe’s economic recovery plan that SADC endorsed at the summit also envisages resumption of full cooperation between Zimbabwe and rich Western countries, the European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"The Extraordinary Summit urged the donor community, the international financial institutions and the international community in general to support Zimbabwe and provide it with the necessary financial support for its timely economic recovery," said SADC.

SADC countries are also expected to inform the bloc’s executive secretary within two weeks on their respective pledges to support Zimbabwe’s recovery programme within two weeks. – ZimOnline