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The acknowledgement by Zimbabwe’s central bank governor that it raided the private bank accounts of companies and donors to fund President Robert Mugabe’s government during the economic crisis has increased speculation over his fate under the new national unity government.
Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said the central bank took foreign currency from private accounts to help pay for some $2 billion in loans to state-owned companies and utilities and for power and grain imports. He said the government still had to repay about $1.2 billion, so the bank could repay the money it owes.
Heading the central bank at a time Zimbabwe was suffering economic collapse and hyperinflation that touched at least 231 million percent a year (according to official figures) was never going to be a badge of honour for the governor, but as he made clear in his statement, Zimbabwe’s problems went beyond economics.
“It was a political problem and not an economic one that drove us into the difficulties this nation experienced, and quasi-fiscal operations were a response to those political challenges we have now resolved through the inclusive government,” the statement said. “Our call is to let bygones be bygones and for everyone and every entity to start anew and open a new page.”
South African prosecutors are considering a legal request by ruling ANC leader Jacob Zuma to drop the graft charges against the man who is expected to be the next president after the elections in April. Zuma has always denied any wrongdoing and his followers say the charges were politically motivated.
A decision to drop the charges would give the African National Congress a big boost ahead of what is expected to be the most closely-contested poll since apartheid ended in 1994. It would also remove a major distraction for Zuma in office and the prospect of court appearances that could tarnish South Africa’s standing abroad.
President Robert Mugabe joined the mourning for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife on Tuesday and called on Zimbabweans to end violence and support his old rival to help rebuild the country.
The death of Susan Tsvangirai in a road crash in which her husband was also injured has, at least on the surface, brought about a show of unity between Zimbabwe’s bitterest foes that might never have looked possible.
For those looking to invest in Africa, the best prospects are in Nigeria and Ethiopia according to a new index of potential investment destinations published this week.
But should anybody want to put money into Africa at a time the global financial crisis and falling prices for export commodities, on which the continent is so reliant, have discouraged investors who had begun to see some African countries as promising frontier markets?
Tsvangirai vowed to rescue the stricken economy and called on the international community to help salvage the economy of Zimbabwe where unemployment is above 90 percent, prices double every day and half the 12 million population need food aid.
Despite the extremely tight security at this week’s African Union summit in Ethiopia, one brief lapse gave some journalists covering the meeting a very rare glimpse behind the scenes.
Reporters at the annual meeting in Addis Ababa are normally kept well away from the heads of state, except for the occasional carefully managed press conference, or a brief word thrown in our direction as they sweep past in the middle of a phalanx of sharp-elbowed, scowling bodyguards.
Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change has agreed to join a unity government with President Robert Mugabe, breaking a crippling deadlock four months after the political rivals reached a power-sharing deal.
The decision could improve Zimbabwe’s prospects of recovering from economic collapse and easing a humanitarian crisis in which more than 60,000 people have been infected by cholera and more than half the population needs food aid.
from Global News Journal:
Southern African leaders have decided at a summit that Zimbabwe should form a unity government next month but the opposition said it was disappointed with the outcome, raising doubts over chances for ending the crisis.
The 15-nation SADC grouping said after the meeting in South Africa - its fifth attempt to secure a deal on forming a unity government - it had agreed that opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as prime minister by Feb. 11.
“Sub-Saharan Africa: Year of Regression”. That was the heading used by U.S.-based rights group Freedom House in its survey of political freedom in the world published this week.
Of course the Freedom House survey pointed to the coups in Guinea and Mauritania as well as the situation in Zimbabwe, whose elections were condemned by many countries and where the crisis shows no sign of lessening, but there were plenty of other names on the list too: