Friday, April 13, 2007

Sadc begins Zim mission

Sadc begins Zim mission
Herald Reporter

SADC executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao yesterday began the region’s mission to rescue the Zimbabwean economy from the illegal Western economic sanctions with a series of meetings with President Mugabe and senior Government officials.

Dr Salomao’s mission has been given impetus by a growing feeling within the Sadc region that Zimbabwe should receive financial support from the International Monetary Fund since it has cleared its arrears under the General Resources Account.

Zimbabwe paid a total of US$193 million to the IMF over 13 months between 2005 and last year to clear its arrears with the critical GRA.

Following the repayment, the IMF was supposed to have resumed financial assistance to Zimbabwe but the United States and Britain blocked the resumption of aid.

"The feeling in Sadc is that Zimbabwe, in terms of Article 4 of the rules of the IMF, has cleared its debt and is therefore entitled to access support from the IMF," said a source closely following the Sadc mission.

Speaking to journalists after meeting President Mugabe at Zimbabwe House, Dr Salomao said it was important for Sadc to support Zimbabwe.

He said the meetings were part of the consultations he was undertaking to come up with a programme to rescue Zimbabwe’s economy, which is bleeding under Western-imposed illegal sanctions.

"I am here to implement what was decided by the (Sadc) Heads of State and to have some consultations.

"We are always hoping that the situation, although complex, we need to work hard. What’s good for Zimbabwe is good for the region. What’s bad for Zimbabwe is bad for the region.

"I think it’s time to talk less and do the work," said the Sadc chief.

Yesterday Dr Salomao met with members of the National Economic Recovery Council to get an insight into the National Economic Development Priority Programme, which Government is implementing to turn around the economy.

Headed by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, the NERC is a multi-stakeholder organisation which brings together the economic ministries as well as the private sector.

Dr Salomao said he would also meet the Minister of Finance, Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi; the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono; and the head of the European Union in Zimbabwe.

The Sadc executive secretary was tasked by the Sadc leaders at the Dar es Salaam extraordinary summit in Tanzania last month to study the economic situation in Zimbabwe and see how the region could help it overcome the economic sanctions.

The summit also urged the West to remove the illegal sanctions and called on Britain to honour its obligations to pay compensation to farmers whose farms were acquired for resettlement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Thomas Mandigora, were present in the meeting between President Mugabe and Dr Salomao.

The Sadc secretariat has its offices in Botswana.

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