German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday praised Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, but suggested that economic aid for the impoverished African country would depend on the pace of reforms there.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Tsvangirai after talks at the chancellor’s office, Merkel praised him as a “courageous man” who stands as “a symbol of democratisation”.
“We wish the prime minister’s government luck and we will seek to help it, in the future, whenever possible,” she said.
But she also underscored the need “to strengthen democratic structures”.
“We want to help in this process. But it is important that we get a feeling as to how good progress is,” she said.
She notably spoke of the need to amend the country’s constitution and allow for the return of land expropriated under President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader turned reform-seeking prime minister under a uneasy power-sharing deal with Mugabe, is on an international tour looking for development aid.
The country is seeking to emerge from years of hyper-inflation and a breakdown in basic services that has forced millions of Zimbabweans to flee the country.
In the United States last week, he won a pledge for 73 million dollars in aid from President Barack Obama.
Merkel also spoke of humanitarian aid, but made no direct pledges.
German development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, who later met Tsvangirai, announced that Germany would give the World Bank 20 million euros (27 million dollars) to help Zimbabwe, along with five million euros to buy seed and fertiliser for small-time Zimbabwean farmers.
Speaking at the press conference, Tsvangirai said his government was making progress in dealing with the country’s problems.
“Zimbabwe is changing and is changing for the better,” he said.
Mugabe and rival Tsvangirai on February 11 formed a power-sharing government tasked with steering Zimbabwe back to stability after disputed elections last year plunged the country into crisis.
An International Monetary Fund team arrived Monday in Zimbabwe to assess the government’s economic policies and the country’s humanitarian needs, officials said.-AFP.