Germany pledges Zimbabwe 25 million euros in aid

Zimbabwe’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been touring Europe and the United States to try to convince donor countries that his fragile unity government can rescue the southern African country from economic and political chaos.

Germany’s development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, said Berlin would contribute 20 million euros to a World Bank fund focused on promoting democracy in Zimbabwe, and another 5 million euros for manure and seed.

Germany now mainly provides humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe. Merkel said she was ready to provide more comprehensive help if the unity government set about creating a constitution, undertaking land reform and establishing new state authorities.

Germany could help with these democratic reforms, she added.

"My expectation is that every success in the building of democratic structures could potentially lead to more help. But this need not be financial help. It could also be advice," Merkel told reporters after meeting Tsvangirai in Berlin.

Western aid is only beginning to trickle into Zimbabwe — and all of it is bypassing the unity government of Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday promised $73 million in new aid that a White House official said would go towards fighting HIV-AIDS and promoting good governance in the southern African nation. Significantly, the money will not go to the government but will be channelled through aid agencies.  

Merkel said she could envisage Germany providing similar aid, targeted at equipping schools and hospitals.

Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe needs credit to revive its economy.

"We have already made a number of strides forward. I ask that that be noted," he said, pointing to the re-opening of schools and hospitals and some success in reining in inflation.

"We need bridge loans now to rebuild our economy," he added.

Zimbabwe’s unity government was formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai in February but their power-sharing deal has not been fully implemented.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has long accused Mugabe’s ZANU-PF of using out violence to further its political aims, charges it denies. Arrests of MDC activists have strained the new government.

Western donors have said aid will only flow when a democracy is created and economic reforms are implemented.