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Southern African Leaders Back US$8-10 Billion Zimbabwe Turnaround Plan

A proposal by Zimbabwe to raise between US$8 billion and US$10 billion to fund an economic relaunch and infrastructure reconstruction program received support Monday from the Southern African Development Community, though questions remained as to how much of the package South Africa and other SADC countries would be able to finance.

A follow-up meeting on funding measures has been set in another two weeks.

The SADC summit also followed the lead of the African Union in suspending Madagascar from membership in the regional grouping over the assumption of power by Andry Rajoelina following the ouster under military pressure of President Marc Ravalomanana.

Bloomberg reported that Zimbabwe's Southern African peers agreed to lobby in favor of and help to finance the recovery package, which was twice as large as what Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had earlier said would be required to turn the country around.

South African officials told reporters that the plan includes a US$2 billion short-term initiative and a more comprehensive proposal to spend US$8.5 billion over two to three years.

South African Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said leaders agreed that "in two weeks time we should come back with concrete measures we would take."

Earlier, VOA Correspondent Scott Bobb reported from the summit venue at Ezulwini, outside the Swaziland capital of Mbabane, on the business facing regional leaders.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported on the scene in Ezulwini where reporters were awaiting the final summit communiqué hours before it finally emerged.

For perspective on Zimbabwe’s quest for reconstruction funding, reporter Ntungamili Nkomo turned to political analyst Alex Vines of London think tank Chatham House, who said that he doubts SADC can mobilize even US$2 billion, but sees goodwill among some donors.