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Zimbabwe - Tendai Biti interview

Cash or collapse

Article published on the 2009-04-30 Latest update 2009-08-03 13:18 TU

Tendai Biti at a press conference in Harare on 9 April 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Tendai Biti at a press conference in Harare on 9 April 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

Speaking from London, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti told RFI that the country has secured 400 million dollars (302 million euros) in credit to help restart the economy and improve the humanitarian situation.

“I cannot tell you the full breakdown, because I’ve not reported to my cabinet, but yes, it is true,” said Biti.

Interview: Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe Finance Minister

30/04/2009 by Chris Thompson

Following reports in local media on Wednesday, Biti confirmed that South Africa and Botswana were the principal donors.

But he said it has been hard to convince donors to give Zimbabwe money, although they were putting controls in place.

“Trust and confidence are built, and that is what we are trying to do,” Biti told RFI. “We are putting in measures to show that it won’t be abused,” he added.

On Tuesday, British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander announced 15 million pounds (16 million euros) in aid to Zimbabwe, to help revive the crumbling healthcare system. And Biti thinks more countries will come forward.

“Our requests are being considered, but what is quite clear is that there is a willingness to re-engage,” he said.

Biti is clear on what is making it difficult to secure money.

“It’s politics, it’s the past, nobody trusts Mugabe, that’s the problem, nobody thinks that Zanu-PF are genuine,” he told RFI. “Secondly, in the past, money has been stolen, money has been squandered, people don’t trust that if you give money now, it won’t be abused as well.”

Zimbabwe needs significant amounts of cash to revive the country, after crippling cholera and the disintegration of public infrastructure.

“The cost of our short term emergency recovery programme is about eight billion dollars, but I’m not asking for that, I’m asking for any amount that can generally help our people […] I have to be realistic.”

“It is budgetary support for schools, health, then lines of credit for business […] roads, our electricity sector, our water sector, and most importantly our water treatment and sanitation,

Biti, Secretary General of the Movement for Democratic Change, warns the situation could deteriorate further if cash is not forthcoming.

“The government will collapse, Zimbabwe itself will collapse, we will be compared to another Somalia situation, compared to another Liberia situation, another Rwanda situation,” he warned. “If by July, if nothing is realised, then we’re in for hard times, remember the honeymoon period is very short.”