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Aid, Economic Recovery Priorities After Zimbabwean Power-Sharing Deal

Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations are urging signatories to the power-sharing agreement signed by the country's main parties on Monday to lose no time implementing provisions of the accord as they concern humanitarian aid.

Article 16 says every Zimbabwean is entitled to humanitarian and food aid, which should be distributed without discrimination - but is silent as to whether the non-governmental sector should be allowed to deliver assistance without hindrance.

In June the government of President Robert Mugabe imposed a ban on NGO humanitarian activities, accusing such organizations of taking sides politically ahead of the run-off presidential election which he, as the sole contender, eventually won.

Despite the agreement's failure to address restrictions that continue to inhibit the flow of aid to an increasingly desperate population, Vice Chairman John Chitekuteku of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations welcomed the agreement due to the gravity of the food shortages facing the country through early 2009.

Chitekuteku told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the political structures in place can be effectively used to make sure that those who need food get it.

VOA Correspondent Scott Bobb reported from Johannesburg that humanitarian agencies hope the deal will let them to accelerate food deliveries to millions of Zimbabweans.

Along with humanitarian assistance Zimbabweans are hopeful the agreement will bring the means to stabilize prices, stimulate production, and restore the economy.

Economists said the new government faces a huge task and will need the help of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as well as bilateral aid from Western, African and other nations.

IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday issued a statement saying that his organization is ready to open discussions with the new government on its “policies to stabilize the economy, improve social conditions and reduce poverty.”

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government must convince the international financial institutions to step in because it does not have the means to turn around the economy on its own.

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