Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Zimbabwe recovery costs 'massive'

Mr Tsvangirai on rebuilding Zimbabwe's economy

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said the cost of rebuilding his country's economy could run as high as $5bn (3.5bn).

Mr Tsvangirai was speaking after meeting officials in neighbouring South Africa to discuss a recovery plan.

Zimbabwe's political deadlock recently ended with a power-sharing deal, but the economy is in a state of collapse.

Also on Friday, the UN said more than 80,000 people had now been infected by Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak.

At least 3,759 people had died from the disease, the World Health Organization said.

Mr Tsvangirai was in South Africa with Finance Minister Tendai Biti, where they met South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

Both Zimbabwean officials are members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which recently agreed to form a unity government with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

Investment needed

The power-sharing deal was agreed after disputed elections and months of talks, during which the economy slid into a deepening crisis.

A woman holding Zimbabwean dollar notes
We are going to use a multi-currency approach
Morgan Tsvangirai
Zimbabwean prime minister

"As for the long-term economic recovery it has not been assessed," Mr Tsvangirai was quoted as saying at a press briefing in Cape Town.

But he added: "I think it would run into billions of dollars, maybe as high as $5bn."

Inflation in Zimbabwe - estimated by some economists at 10 sextillion per cent - has left its currency almost worthless.

Mr Biti said earlier this week that soldiers and civil servants would be paid in US dollars.

But on Friday Mr Tsvangirai ruled out adopting the South African rand.

"Our currency is devalued almost to a point of non-use, so we are going to use a multi-currency approach," he said.

"But at the moment there is no talk about the randification [of the currency]. It is a multi-currency facility we are looking at."

He also said foreign direct investment would be "one of the areas of focus" as Zimbabwe began to rebuild.

'Aid is aid'

He also appealed to countries which are wary of giving aid with Mr Mugabe still at the helm.

One person in Roy Bennett's cell died yesterday and the body is still to be removed. Prisoners are literally starving to death.
MDC statement

"Aid is aid. We don't care where it comes from as long as it helps Zimbabweans," AP news agency quotes him as saying.

Zimbabwean central bank governor Gideon Gono said international and regional financiers had offered the country $500m in credit, but remain cautious over conflicting policy signals, Reuters news agency reported.

The leaders also discussed the detention of Roy Bennett - the MDC's nominee for deputy agricultural minister - who was arrested last week on charges including terrorism.

The mayor of Mutare, the eastern city where he is in custody, visited Mr Bennett on Friday.

In a statement afterwards, the MDC said the conditions at the prison were "deplorable".

"One person in Roy Bennett's cell died yesterday and the body is still to be removed. Prisoners are literally starving to death," he said.

Mr Bennett's lawyer says his bail hearing will take place at the High Court next Tuesday.

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