Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe endured the double indignity of being booed in parliament while asking the West to help Zimbabwe out of its economic chaos during his first state of the nation address in eight years, TheTimes reported.
The 91-year-old leader, who expelled the country’s white farmers and oversaw inflation of 1 million percent, said economic recovery was just around the corner.
Mugabe’s abrupt change of tone toward the West comes after “furiously spitting fire at the West for decades,” Globe&Mail reported.
Unemployment is skyrocketing in Zimbabwe, the economy is in ruin and the dictator now wants help from Western investors and creditors.
“My government values re-engagement of the Western world in the Zimbabwe economy,” he said in what Globe&Mail described as an unusually conciliatory speech.
More than 20,000 Zimbabwe workers have lost their jobs in recent weeks and the earlier 3.2-percent economic growth forecast for 2015 has been reduced to 1.5 percent. Mugabe blamed drought, according to Mail&Guardian.
Mugabe, 91, promised to “repeal all laws that hamper business,” and called for stronger relations with multilateral institutions including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
He was booed by opposition party politicians over the economy as he delivered a speech lasting less than half an hour, Mail&Guardian reported.
Zimbabwe owes lenders about $8.4-billion, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said in November, according to Mail&Guardian. In its first formal contact with the country in more than 10 years, the IMF began a staff monitoring program there in 2013,
Mugabe is a close friend of China, whose volatile economy may be helping change his attitude to the West, Mail&Guardian reported.
China is getting worried about the state of Zimbabwe’s economy, Zimbabwe news outlet The Independent reported recently.
In 2014, China provided the Harare City Council with $144.4-million to rehabilitate waterworks through Eximbank Bank, but some of the money allegedly was used to buy 50 top-of-the-line vehicles worth more than $2-million for politicians and officials, according to TheIndependent.
Zimbabwe has also been failing to repay loans of about US$1.5-billion provided by the Chinese. There are indications that some of the money was misused and could not be accounted for, The Independent reported.
The Zimbabwe government is desperate for the Chinese to fund projects that can create jobs. The Chinese however are worried about bad corporate governance and lack of controls, and have insisted on training Zimbabwe government officials. They’re reluctant to release funds without instituting measures to protect their investment, TheIndependent reported.
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