Zuma to ditch Zimbabwe?


Zimbabwe, already forced to find an economic solution on its own because donors have ditched the country, may also have to find a political solution of its own. Sources close to the African National Congress of South Africa say President Jacob Zuma could soon abandon his mediation efforts to save his own political career at home.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who was very optimistic about growth this year when he presented his 2010 budget, last week said Zimbabwe might have to revise its growth forecast from 7.7 percent to 4.8 percent because donors had ditched the country.

The country has received only $2.9 million from donors to finance an $810 million budget deficit.

“If this slow off-take persists then we may have to revise our growth target to about 4.8 percent. We are not doing this now, but will make a definitive statement in the mid-year budget review,” Biti said.

“The 2010 budget counts on the significant support of donors, amounting to $810 million, but the regrettable thing is that donor financing, which we had earmarked for capital projects, has not materialised.”

Education Minister David Coltart said donors were not prepared to give any money to Zimbabwe because it was like pouring it into a bottomless pit.

“Donors have told me that this country is a bottomless pit and they will not support anything until the GPA is fully implemented,” Coltart was quoted as saying. “They will not give us a cent even for teachers’ salaries. They have however said they are willing to give us 13 million text books for primary school children next year.”

Zimbabwe has said it needs $10 billion to revive its economy, but it looks like the country will have to face reality and use its own internal resources to do so.

But the country could face another hurdle. Sources close to the ANC say mediators appointed by President Zuma are getting frustrated by lack of progress in the Global Political Agreement talks and might advise Zuma to pull out and hand back the dispute to the Southern African Development Community.

President Zuma gave the negotiating parties up to the end of March to come up with an agreement but they failed to meet the deadline.

The mediation team appointed by Zuma includes Lindiwe Zulu, Charles Nqakula and Mac Maharaj, who is reported to be one of those most frustrated by the lack of progress and is likely to pull out of the mediation team.

Observers in Harare say Maharaj is partly to blame for his own frustration because he has been trying to bulldoze things, and this did not go down well with the negotiators from the three partners- the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.

The ANC is reported to have been offering solutions to the main faction of the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai but the party has been reluctant to take that advice.

“The ANC is frustrated. They don’t understand what is happening. President Zuma may soon try to ease himself out and hand over the dispute to SADC because he is facing increasing pressure from home,” a source said.

President Zuma is being accused of all-talk but no action at home. He is also facing problems within his own party because of his failure to rein in party youth leader Julius Malema. The fragile peace in the country could also be rocked by rising right-wing sentiments following the death of right-wing leader Eugene Terre Blanche.

There are fears that Zuma might not last his full term as party leader if he does not address problems at home. His current term as ANC president ends in 2012.






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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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