African business, politics and lifestyle
Should West back Zimbabwe’s government?
The United Nations has joined Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government in appealing for more than $700 million in humanitarian aid for the ruined country.
But while Western countries may show willing when it comes to emergency aid, they are still reluctant to give money to the government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his old rival.
First, they say, there must be broader political reforms and a clearer demonstration of respect for human rights.
The Western countries have long been at odds with Mugabe, accusing him of ruining Zimbabwe after the seizure of white-owned farms, of widespread human rights abuses and of making a mockery of elections last year that were widely condemned outside Zimbabwe.
“My advice is for the international community to engage Zimbabwe as the opposite of this will only benefit hardliners,” Tsvangirai told a visiting French minister last week.
The unity government has said it won more than $1 billion in promised credit lines from African banks for private firms, but says it needs more than $8 billion for reconstruction.
Should Western countries aid the government now, or is it too soon?
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