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IMF Says Zimbabwe Reconstruction Could Cost US$45BN Over Five Years

The International Monetary Fund has estimated that returning Zimbabwe to the economic level where it stood in the mid-1990s could take as much as US$45 billion over the next five years, according to Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

The national unity government installed in February has been struggling to raise funds for reconstruction, but so far has only brought in commitments for US$400 million from members of the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, better known as Comesa.

Western donors and multilateral institutions like the IMF and World Bank have been standing back waiting for more far-reaching reforms in Harare, especially on respect for human rights, restoration of the rule of law and governance in general.

Though the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change has a majority in parliament and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, founder of the MDC, heads the government, President Robert Mugabe has refused to replace controversial figures such as Attorney General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono.

Potential donors are waiting in particular for the removal of Gono, whose misappropriation of funds from private and non-governmental accounts at the central bank to fund the last government led by Mr. Mugabe discredited him in the eyes of many observers - in particular the diversion of US$7.3 million from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS.

Gono is also accused of stoking hyperinflation by printing massive amounts of Zimbabwean dollars, ultimately destroying the currency’s value to such an extent that the government officially abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar, adopting multiple hard currencies.

Finance Minister Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the IMF, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program have set up a trust fund that will serve to receive donor monies in such a way that they cannot be diverted as occurred in the past at the central bank.

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