Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 13:58 UK

China 'agrees huge Zimbabwe loan'

Morgan Tsvangirai in Brussels, 18/06
Mr Tsvangirai says Western countries have pledged $500m

China has agreed to give Zimbabwe a loan of $950m (£573m) to help it revive its battered economy, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said.

Mr Tsvangirai had been criticised by supporters of President Robert Mugabe for failing to get more support during his recent trip to the West.

Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe formed a power-sharing government in February.

The government says it needs some $8bn to rebuild the country following years of collapse.

"The government through the minister of finance, secured credit lines of almost $950m from China," Mr Tsvangirai said in a news conference.

China was one of the few countries to retain economic support for Zimbabwe in recent years.

"We will encourage and facilitate more Chinese companies to seek development in Zimbabwe," Chinese official Zhou Yongkang told state news agency Xinhua.

'Enormous support'

The prime minister visited the US and Europe earlier this month in an attempt to raise funding for the struggling nation.

The US promised $73m in aid while the UK pledged to boost its funding by about $8m, taking its total to $98m for the year.

Mr Tsvangirai said he had received pledges totalling $500m during his trip.

Money cannot be found to pay those who are working - not even the ministers, not the president
Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwean president

"The amount of assistance that was raised on my visit to Europe and the United States does not reflect the enormous support we will be able to utilise if we are to fulfil all our political obligations," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai has been forced on several occasions to defend his decision to enter a power-sharing government with Mr Mugabe - as the two men spent years as bitter political rivals.

The prime minister said he had joined the unity government to save the country from disaster - it was battling a cholera outbreak, while water, health and education services had collapsed.

Senior members of Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Monday boycotted a cabinet meeting chaired by Mr Mugabe, saying he had treated their party with contempt and disrespect.

And the president himself said last week the unity government had so far not lived up to its promises.

"Money cannot be found to pay those who are working. Not even the ministers, not the president," Zimbabwe's Herald newspaper quoted him as saying.

Mr Mugabe said he had been promised $100 in salary this year - but had so far received nothing.

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