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Southern African Finance Chiefs Head to US Seeking Funds for Zimbabwe

The Southern African Development Community is sending a delegation to Washington next week to urge the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to help members of the regional organization fund Zimbabwe's economic recovery plan.

SADC sources said the organization's executive chairman, Tomaz Salamao, will lead finance ministers from the region in appealing to Washington and the multilateral financial institutions which have all said that Harare needs to show clear progress on governance, human rights and respect for the rule of law if they are to consider funding Zimbabwe's recovery.

Following a decade of accelerating decline Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed and the national unity government in which power is shared by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai seeks money to pay civil servants and restore basic services.

A second SADC deadline for member countries to make firm pledges of aid to Harare passed on Friday, but Salamao declined to state the amount of pledges received so far.

South Africa and Botswana between them have pledged some US$160 million - but Harare is looking for US$2 billion to get started and up to US$10 billion for full reconstruction.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of Harare told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that with a global recession in force, SADC's means to help are limited.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government lifted its travel warning for Zimbabwe, saying conditions in the country have improved.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters Friday the warning was canceled because basic medical, food, and fuel services have been restored in Zimbabwe.

But Wood cautioned that the situation in Zimbabwe remains unpredictable, and that the United States could issue another travel warning if necessary.

Welcoming the decision, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Executive Karikoga Kaseke said the U.S. decision will encourage tourists worldwide to reconsider visiting Zimbabwe.

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