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South African Opposition Critical of Proposed Zimbabwe Bailout

  • Studio 7

South African opposition parties are criticizing as irresponsible the government’s commitment in principle, made public this week, to extend credit to Zimbabwe to help it service its debt to the International Monetary Fund and avert expulsion.

The credit line would also help Zimbabwe address critical shortages of food and fuel, though the South African government has indicated that the extent to which it will help Harare depends on its willingness to initiate democratic reforms.

From Johannesburg, correspondent Bernard Mandizvidza filed a report for VOA”s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe on the furor over the loan.

Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change is cautiously welcomed the in-principle loan agreement with the proviso that the top priority for such funds must be relieving “the appalling human misery” provoked by the government’s drive to eliminate shantytowns from cities and towns, and combat parallel markets.

The MDC also warned South African President Thabo Mbeki not to hope to bring President Robert Mugabe into line with emergency financing alone.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with the MDC’s general secretary, Welshman Ncube, about the bailout package.

President Mugabe was in Ethiopia for an extraordinary African Union summit to discuss United Nations reform, this on the heels of the AU’s appointment of the former Mozambican president, Joaquim Chissano, as special envoy to Harare. AU officials have not specified Mr. Chissano’s remit, but it is assumed to be to shepherd the government in power and its opposition into political talks.

Mr. Mugabe continues to insist that he will not accept the MDC as a partner in government and that he won’t talk to the opposition outside parliament.

But MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai told Blessing Zulu that such talks are vital to Zimbabwe’s future, adding that he is pleased to see Mr. Chissano involved.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...