Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has opportunity, says Obama

2013-07-01 07:56

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Zim not a basket case, minister tells SA investors
Zim not a basket case, minister tells SA investors

Zimbabwe’s economy is on the mend as the worst is over, the country’s finance minister says, in a bid to assure investors in SA that its neighbour is "not a basket case".

Johannesburg - US President Barack Obama said on Sunday Zimbabwe's economic recovery gave the southern African country an opportunity to advance but only if upcoming elections were "free and fair".

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, at 89 Africa's oldest leader, is seeking to extend his three-decade rule in elections scheduled for 31 July. The opposition wants to delay the poll to allow reforms designed to prevent a repeat of the bloodshed that marred the 2008 election.

"Zimbabweans have a new constitution. The economy is beginning to recover. So there is an opportunity to move forward," Obama said in a televised speech at the University of Cape Town during his three-nation Africa visit.

"But only if there is an election that is free and fair and peaceful so that Zimbabweans can determine their future without fear of intimidation and retribution," Obama said.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, has been accused by critics of rigging elections and driving the economy into near ruin by scaring off investors with polices such as the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

After a decade of contraction which saw the domestic currency rendered worthless by hyper-inflation, the economy has been growing again, in part because Zimbabwe has dumped its own dollar in favour of the US dollar.

Obama said in Zimbabwe, "the promise of liberation gave way to the corruption of power and then the collapse of the economy."

Obama is visiting Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania on his African trip.

- Reuters

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  barack obama  |  senegal  |  us  |  tanzania  |  zimbabwe  |  sa  |  obama in africa  |  east africa  |  west africa  |  zimbabwe elections 2013  |  southern africa

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