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Unreformed Zimbabwe Central Bank Discouraging Donors, Says Finance Minister

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti has told Parliament that he is unable to persuade international donors to provide "a single cent" for the country's 2010 budget - as opposed to food aid or other humanitarian assistance - out of fear funds could be diverted.

He made the comment in parliamentary debate on legislation to reform the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, according to the Web news agency ZimOnline, which quoted Biti as saying donors' first question was whether their funds would be in RBZ hands. RBZ Governor Gideon Gono has acknowledged that he diverted donor and other funds to government uses.

Biti said the solution is reform of the central bank. Biti, who is also secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has urged that Gono be replaced. The issue is among those deeply dividing the Tsvangirai MDC and the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, who has defended Gono.

VOA could not immediately reach Biti for confirmation of the attributed remarks.

Economist Nhlanhla Nyathi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that he agrees with Biti, as donors must have confidence the central bank will properly handle funds.

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