- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appealed for US$5 billion to rescue the country’s economy also pleading with the western nations to lift sanctions on the impoverished Southern Africa state.
Launching the Short Term Emergency Recovery Plan (STERP) today, the president appealed to international organisations to aid Zimbabwe in its endeavours to tackle economic crisis. The STERP is the first economic plan formulated by the new inclusive government as it steps up efforts to resuscitate the ailing economy.
"I on behalf of the inclusive government and the people of Zimbabwe say, friends of Zimbabwe please come to our aid," Mr Mugabe said in the appeal.
Despite the formation of the month long unity government, the European Union and the United States have decided to maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on Mr Mugabe and his inner circle in protest at the controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by his regime.
President Mugabe has also appealled to countries that have expressed an interest in supporting Zimbabwe’s endeavour to turn around the economy of the country, to open up and come forward.
Unravelling the new package, the Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, said the STERP would attempt to convince businesses to gear up, increasing factory utilisation to levels above 60 percent. A number of factories had shut down while others slowed production when economic unrest rose last year.
Minister Biti, yesterday slashed the government budget by nearly half, saying that revenues would be 43 percent lower than predicted just two months ago.
The US Department spokesman Robert Wood said Zimbabwe has a long way to go before any targeted sanctions could be removed.
The US president, Barrack Obama, has recently extended the Zimbabwe sanctions by at least a year until the newly formed unity government has shown commitment to the rule of law and democracy.
President Mugabe who has ruled the country since 1980, has blamed the sanctions for the economic downturn but his critics accuse him of plundering the economy. The country has a runaway inflation of more than 230 million percent.
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