Africa

SA loan for Mugabe would be a mistake

Zimbabwean civic groups have expressed outrage at South Africa’s decision “in principle” to bail out President Robert Mugabe’s government and pay off some of its debts.

Zimbabwean civic groups have expressed outrage at South Africa’s decision “in principle” to bail out President Robert Mugabe’s government and pay off some of its debts.

Zimbabwe’s largest civic coalition, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), said on Thursday that any help to Zimbabwe would be better spent on buying food. It could then be distributed by civic groups and churches working with the South African Council of Churches.

Giving Mugabe loans, as announced by South African government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe, was merely addressing the symptoms of a deepening crisis and would not help much, said NCA spokesperson Lovemore Madhuku.

He was speaking by cellphone on Thursday night from Harare Central Prison, where he was being held for allegedly organising an illegal demonstration against Mugabe’s plans to amend the constitution.

“Unless South Africa is willing to maintain a regular loan facility to bankroll Mugabe, this stop-gap deal will not go far. In fact, it’s a waste of time and will not make Zimbabwe’s self-inflicted economic problems disappear,” Madhuku said. “What is needed is a comprehensive package of reforms which does away with all of Mugabe’s insane economic policies in favour of sustainable policies to generate the resources the country needs to sustain recovery. Mugabe simply does not have the political will for that,” added Madhuku.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it was imperative that immediate priority be given to addressing the human misery provoked by the Zimbabwean government’s “Operation Murambatsvina,” which left 700,000 homeless, according to a United Nations report.

MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said: “They need food, shelter and clothes as soon as possible and we hope that any financial assistance extended by South Africa is immediately channelled towards addressing these basic survival needs. A direct show of solidarity by the South African government would engender tremendous hope among those who have lost everything as a result of the Zimbabwean government’s disastrous policies.”

Basildon Peta, The Mail & Guardian, August 5, 2005

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