SA considers Zim $100m financial bailout

HARARE - South Africa yesterday said it was ready to consider Zimbabwe’s request for a $100 million financial bailout after a request by Finance minister Tendai Biti.

Biti said Zimbabwe needed the money to pay its civil servants.

Failure to attract aid from Western donors and foreign direct investment has fomented an already dire financial situation, which has forced the minister to slash his ambitious 2012 GDP growth projections from 9,4 percent to 5,6 percent due to a poor agricultural season, foreign debt estimated at $9,1 billion and lack of financial aid.

South Africa Finance minister Pravin Gordhan said he was ready to discuss Zimbabwe’s loan request, which would be forwarded to Cabinet, spokesperson Phumza Macanda told Sapa yesterday.

“South Africa has previously assisted Zimbabwe, contributing R300 million to the Sadc agriculture support programme, a portion of which was used for the purchase of seeds, fertiliser and fuel for agricultural production in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Macanda said Gordham was ready to sit down with his Zimbabwean counterpart to consider the request.
Macanda did not disclose when exactly the meeting was taking place.

But Biti said last week the “important appointment” was slotted for two weeks from last week.

“In this meeting, we are going to make a request for budgetary support to the tune of $100 million from the South African government,” Biti told a news conference last week.

We are going to ask the South Africans to make good on the line of credit that they promised in Swaziland in 2009 to the tune of R500 million. We are also going to make a request for the resuscitation of what I call for lack of better words, Salisbury-Pretoria line of credit to the tune of R1,75 billion.

“That is the case he will be making at this high-level meeting.”

South Africa’s opposition said the request should be treated with caution.
Democratic Alliance international relations spokesperson Ian Davidson said the money should be tied to reforms and not “prop up” Mugabe.

The DA urged the SA Finance minister to ensure it is not used for political campaigning and bankrolling militia but must encourage democratisation, respect for human rights and allow free political activity.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is also taking its begging bowl to Angola for a $50 million credit line.

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