Netherlands – Zimbabwe: You will get no money from us

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Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was told in the Netherlands on Monday that his government had to implement serious political and economic reforms before it could expect a significant financial bail-out to revive its shattered economy.

Tsvangirai met Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende yesterday at The Hague on the first leg of his three week long trip, which will take him across Europe and to the US in search of a rescue package to reconstruct the collapsed economy.

Reports say senior government officials in Tsvangirai’s delegation said Balkenende had told the Zimbabwean premier that while the Netherlands would give Harare humanitarian aid, it would not release reconstruction funds unless serious political and economic reforms were first implemented.

Asked whether going back home empty-handed would not cause tension
within the inclusive Government, PM Tsvangirai said the purpose of his visit was to educate “our partners” on political developments in Zimbabwe.

“The objective is to educate, educate, and educate our partners. It’s not about going around with the begging bowl, because we believe that the country has been isolated the last 10 years and it is time to normalise relations and that doesn’t come cheap. It has to be reciprocal. We have to do something which we said we are going to do.” Tsvangirai is quoted saying.

Tsvangirai wants immediate funding to finance an economic recovery and
to save the cash-strapped inclusive government in Harare. Zimbabwe is looking for about US$10bn for reconstruction. So far it has been able to get just over 1bn.

Tsvangirai in February entered into a power-sharing government with his rival, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whose mismanagement is
considered responsible for wrecking the economy. Tsvangirai’s party narrowly missed the majority of votes needed to oust Mugabe.

After the talks with Balkenende, Tsvangirai met Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen, who also insisted on reforms. On Sunday, he met Development Co-operation Minister Bert Koenders and was given the same message.

Tsvangirai left the Netherlands yesterday. He will visit the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium and the US for talks with President Barack Obama.

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