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Wednesday, 08 July 2009 00:31

Zimbabwe Receives $950 mln Loan From China

By Godfrey Marawanyika

HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 30 (AFP) – Zimbabwe has won 950 million dollars in credit lines from China, the largest loan secured by the new government, boosting the country's global appeal for funds to rebuild its shattered economy.

"While I was away, government through Finance Minister Tendai Biti also secured lines of credit from China totalling 950 million dollars (672 million euros)," said Tsvangirai, who returned to Harare at the weekend from a three-week tour to Europe and the United States.

Tsvangirai said the tour was an "overwhelming success" in re-engaging Zimbabwe with foreign donors and that the first formal engagement in seven years with the European Union had led to a commitment of 150 million dollars.

"The EU committed itself to availing us with transitional and humanitarian support to the tune of more than 150 million dollars," he said.

"They also pledged more support which will be guided by the way in which we meet our own political commitments," he added.

During his visit Tsvangirai met with heads of state in London, Washington, Berlin, Stockholm, Brussels and Paris to appeal for assistance to rebuild the country's shattered economy.

Tsvangirai told reporters that he had received pledges totalling almost 500 million dollars for humanitarian and transitional assistance, but said details will follow.

Leaders had expressed reservations about the delays in full implementation of the deal underpinning the unity government with Tsvangirai's former arch rival President Robert Mugabe, he said.

"They asked, why, after almost five months, had fundamental obligations undertaken by the respective political parties not been implemented."

The concerns were legitimate and outstanding issues were not "foreign benchmarks imposed on Zimbabwe" but conditions set by the unity government, he said.

"As a nation, if we want outside assistance, we must first prove that we are able to fulfil the obligations we have undertaken."

Tsvangirai has insisted that Mugabe's presence in power should not deter foreign governments from helping his country, but faces reports of ongoing human rights abuses.

Last week Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, blasted the West for refusing to lift sanctions against him and his inner circle until tangible reforms were seen.

"Who are they to tell us 'you do this and that, reform this and that'? We don't tell them what they should do in their own countries," he said.

The two rivals formed a power-sharing government in February nearly a year after disputed elections plunged Zimbabwe deeper into economic and political chaos.

Tsvangirai on Tuesday said he would meet Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to address sticking points, which include a dispute over the appointments of the attorney-general and the central bank governor.

Thirteen ministers from Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) pulled out of a cabinet meeting after it was called a day earlier to accommodate Mugabe's trip to the African Union summit in Libya.

Deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe told journalists that the rescheduling had denied recognition of Tsvangirai as chair of the cabinet when the president is away, and was in contempt of the power-sharing deal.

"For a long time we have remained the polite and subservient upholders of the global political agreement, against clear evidence of the absence of a reliable and honest partner," said Khupe.

Tsvangirai backed his deputy on Tuesday, endorsing her statement that "the greatest challenge Zimbabwe faces is one of old attitudes that refuse to accept the new order".

The new government is seeking 8.3 billion dollars (5.9 billion euros) to revive the once thriving economy, battered by years of political turmoil and deepening economic crisis under Mugabe. (END/2009)

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