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Pretoria Officials Tight-Lipped on Zimbabwe Loan – But Leaks Point to $500 Million Deal

Despite reports that a $500 million bailout package for Zimbabwe was close to being agreed with South Africa, a Pretoria official said Friday that talks with Harare were still under way and that all details would be withheld until their completion.

Finance Ministry spokesman Logan Wort said reports as to the loan size were purely speculative. Mr. Wort neither confirmed nor denied reports that Harare was adamantly rejecting a key loan condition – talks between Harare and its political opposition.

He told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Pretoria and Harare were looking into the reports quoting a senior ruling party official.

Despite such words of caution from officials, the South African press was awash with leaks setting the size of the prospective loan at $500 million.

Reports said this would let Harare retire International Monetary Fund debt of around $300 million, leaving it with $200 million to relieve acute food and fuel shortages.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to foreign affairs expert Innocent Sithole of Leicester University, Britain, for his perspective.

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