Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mugabe calls for lifting of sanctions

Mugabe calls for lifting of sanctions
Written by Kingsley Kaswende in Harare
Saturday, March 21, 2009 8:23:51 AM

THE inclusive government in Zimbabwe has launched its Short Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP), with President Robert Mugabe appealing for financial aid from the international community.

The new economic programme, launched in Harare yesterday, reflects the implementation of part of the broad-based agreement which seeks to addresses issues of economic stabilisation and national healing.

The plan will be in force between now and December as it lays the basis for a more comprehensive economic framework, which will succeed it.

It dwells on the revival of productive sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, trade and tourism, which President Mugabe said had been devastated by illegal sanctions slapped on the country by donors.

These economic activities, according to the plan, will be resuscitated through the removal of price controls, easing foreign currency surrender requirements and improving the supply of power, water, transport and communication, among other strategies.

President Mugabe made a passionate plea to external partners to assist Zimbabwe in ensuring successful implementation of the programme.

"The successful implementation of STERP will indeed require substantial amounts of resources from our fiscus. We hope these will be forthcoming. We also wish to appeal to all those countries which wish us to succeed to support our national endeavour to turn around our economy," President Mugabe said. "So I, on behalf of the inclusive government and the people of Zimbabwe, say: 'Friends of Zimbabwe, please come to our aid'."

President Mugabe implored the European Union (EU) and the United States to lift the economic sanctions which he described as "inhuman, cruel and unwarranted".

"SADC and the African Union have, in support of our inclusive government's economic stabilisation and recovery efforts, already strongly called for the removal of these sanctions. We, thus, repeat our loud call for their immediate removal," President Mugabe said.

Explaining the major highlights of the new economic programme, finance minister Tendai Biti said STERP was motivated by the need to get the economy back on track as quickly as possible.

"We need to take Zimbabwe out of the current rut and move it forward," Biti said.

Key priority areas are political and governance issues under which aspects such as the crafting of a new constitution, observance of the rule of law and media reform would fall.

Under social protection, focus would be on food and humanitarian assistance, education, health and strategic targeted vulnerable groups.

Stabilisation measures would include restoring the value of the local currency, increasing capacity use in all sectors of the economy and ensuring adequate availability of food, fuel and electricity, among other things.

Biti said under agriculture, a land audit would be conducted while interventions would be made to ensure security of tenure for those allocated land. This would help farmers access funding. We want to make sure that land is not dead capital," said Biti.

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