Sunday, July 24, 2005

Mugabe off to china


....The visit comes days after Mugabe's spokesman said the government, isolated from the West, was exploring alternative lines of credit with countries such as China and Malaysia as it grapples with Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis in decades.

Unemployment is above 70 percent, inflation is in triple digits and there are acute shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel....

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba told Reuters on Friday Zimbabwe had also approached India, China and Iran for financial help with infrastructure and energy projects.

"We are trying to break away from Western donors who have conditioned us to conditionalities and that means going East, going South," he said.

Mugabe left Harare the same day the United Nations released a damning report on his government's controversial demolitions of urban slums, which the global body said had left some 700,000 people without homes or livelihoods and affected another 2.4 million.

Mugabe's government denounced the report by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, as biased, hostile and false. The government says the crackdown on shantytowns was necessary to weed out crime.

On Thursday New Zealand, leading a push to isolate Zimbabwe on the sporting field, said it wanted China to ensure that any aid it gives to the troubled African nation did not directly benefit its veteran leader, whose government critics blame for the crisis afflicting the southern African country.

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