Mugabe seeks aid for wrecked economy

PM Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe attend a funeral for a military commander this week.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe pleaded Thursday for aid to help revive the country’s battered economy, which analysts say he is responsible for wrecking.

“Please come to our aid,” said Mugabe while launching The Short Term Emergency Recovery Plan Thursday. STERP is the first economic plan formulated by the new inclusive government as it steps up efforts to resuscitate the ailing economy. Finance Minister Tendai Biti said at the launch that STERP would attempt to convince businesses to gear up, increasing factory utilization to levels above 60 percent. Most industries either scaled down production or closed shop as economic turbulence rose last year. Capacity utilization in most remaining firms has dropped drastically to about 4 percent. Mugabe also appealed to the European Union and the United States of America to remove targeted sanctions imposed against him and his close associates. He blamed the sanctions for the economic downturn but his critics accuse him of plundering the economy. “To the European Union and the United States, I appeal for the removal of your sanctions which are inhuman, cruel and unwarranted. SADC and the African Union have, in support of our inclusive government’s economic stabilization and recovery efforts, already strongly called for the removal of these sanctions. We thus repeat our loud call for their immediate removal,” said Mugabe. But earlier Thursday, a visiting Danish minister said Zimbabwe must restore the rule of law and stop a fresh wave of farm invasions if aid is to flow.

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After meeting Biti and lands minister Herbert Murerwa, the Danish Minister of Cooperation Development Ulla Tornaes said, “I underlined to the minister (Murerwa) that the evictions of farmers from their land and the lack of respect for Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements, and the invasion of land without compensation is unacceptable.” She added: “I really hope that the new government will find a solution to this situation. This is very important for us. We will follow closely the establishment and operations of the human rights and land commissions that Zimbabwe will establish in line with the global political agreement.” Murerwa told the visiting Danish minister that the government would undertake a land audit to determine the status of land protected under bilateral agreements with a view to pay compensation for invaded land. “We are looking at farms protected under bilateral agreements to establish their status. Zimbabwe intends to respect bilateral agreements and we are obliged to pay compensation for such lands,” said Murerwa. Tornaes said Denmark will look at finding new ways to support the inclusive government, and added: “But the rule of law must be restored and the eviction of farmers must end.” A fresh wave of farm invasions has threatened the foundation of the inclusive government. Biti said the government was looking into resolving outstanding issues in the political agreement such as the invasions of farms and continued detention of political activists.