Zimbabwe repair 'to cost $5bn'

Tsvangirai discusses recovery of battered economy with South African leaders.

    Tsvangirai described Zimbabwe's
    situation as "dire" [EPA] 

    "Obviously as a country that is emerging from such a dire situation, foreign direct investment is one of the areas of focus ... anything that is inhibitive for foreign direct investment ... has to be reviewed."

    He said the most immediate priorities would be to reopen schools and hospitals closed because of the economic meltdown and to increase food supplies.

    Unity government

    Zimbabwe's new government comprising Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zanu-PF led by Robert Mugabe, the country's president, was formed last week.

    It is faced with resolving an economic crisis with the inflation rate of 200 million per cent being the highest in the world. An estimated seven million people need food aid.

    Given the state of the Zimbabwean dollar, Tsvangirai said the nation is expanding
    the use of foreign currency, but did not consider adopting the South African rand as legal tender, as previously suggested by the South African president.

    "Our currency is devalued almost to a point of non-use, so we are going to use a multi-currency approach ... But at the moment there is no talk about the randification [of the currency]," Tsvangirai said.

    Kgalema Motlanthe, the South African president, said southern African finance
    ministers and the head of the African Development Bank would meet next week
    to evaluate Zimbabwe's needs and said South Africa was prepared to take the lead in any financial rescue package.

    Cholera outbreak

    Meanwhile, more than 80,000 people in Zimbabwe have been infected with cholera since an epidemic broke out in August. 

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) put the death toll at 3,759 on Friday, saying about half of the patients dead had failed to reach any of the country's 365 cholera treatment centres.

    The proportion of deaths has been decreasing steadily since early January, but the fatality rate remains above the acceptable level in such an epidemic, according to the WHO.

    The infection is both preventable and treatable, but health services in Zimbabwe are limited following the economic and political crisis.

    "Given the outbreak's dynamic, in the context of a dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure and a weak health system, the practical implementation of control measures remains a challenge," the WHO said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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