South Africa considers steps to help Zimbabwe

1673
South Africa is considering opening lines of credit and other measures to help Zimbabwe recover from an economic crisis and ease its international isolation, the two countries said on Monday.
Senior officials meeting at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe also discussed other steps such as providing export credit insurance and facilitating trade to support Zimbabwe’s new unity government, a joint statement said.
“The two sides exchanged views on political developments in their respective countries. They agreed to work together in Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the international community and in the lobbying for the lifting of economic sanctions…,” it said.
Reuters says Zimbabwe, beset by 90 percent unemployment, hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods, needs Western donors and foreign investors to rescue its economy.
Their help will be conditional on the implementation of fully democratic government and economic reforms, such as reversing plans for nationalisation, by the joint administration of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy and a regional diplomatic power, is well placed to secure support for Zimbabwe.
South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed to boost output in mining and taking steps to increase investment in the sector, said the statement.
A new power-sharing government has raised hopes of an end to an economic meltdown in the once prosperous southern African country where inflation was last calculated in mid-2008 at 231 million percent, the world’s highest.
Zimbabwe has estimated it needs $1 billion now to get farms, schools and hospitals working, and another $5 billion later to fully rebuild the economy. 
Food and fuel are scarce and the currency virtually worthless, leading to widespread use of the US dollar and South African rand.
A cholera epidemic has killed over 4000 people and added to the urgency. More than 91 000 people have been infected.
Mugabe blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe’s economic decline. Critics say he has ruined the country with reckless policies.