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Despite Potential Benefits, Harare Spurns Least-Developed UN 'Downgrade'

The government of Zimbabwe has rejected a determination by the United Nations Committee for Development Policy that the country could be categorized as a least-developed country or LDC, which would qualify it for low-cost loans and more aid.

Such a change in status can only be made with the consent of the nation concerned, the U.N. panel said. It reached its conclusion by looking at per capita income data, health, nutrition and education factors, and an economic vulnerability index.

The panel said Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea were eligible for special treatment because they had experienced long periods of stagnation and have been low-income countries for years with "low human capital," a reference in Zimbabwe's case to the emigration that has drained the nation of medical and other critical skills.

Southern African countries in the LDC group include Zambia, Malawi and Angola. But Harare informed the committee it refused to be “downgraded to LDC status.”

Zimbabwean Ambassador to the U.N. Boniface Chidyausiku explained the country's decision to reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.

African Development Bank communications chief Eric Chinje said in an interview with Studio 7 reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele that although it has dismissed the suggestion it might accept listing as an LDC, the country's problems require more foreign aid.

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