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Thursday, 31 May 2007

"WORLD MUST HELP REBUILD ZIM!" BLAIR

Blair: World must help rebuild Zimbabwe
Johannesburg, South Africa
 
 
 
31 May 2007 12:31
The international community must fund the rebuilding of a shattered" Zimbabwe after decades of repression under veteran President Robert Mugabe, Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday.

In a keynote speech on his last trip to Africa as premier, Blair voiced Britain's support for efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between the Mugabe government and the opposition in Harare, saying a change in the political climate was essential ahead of next year's elections.

Blair has been one of the most outspoken critics of 83-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since the former British colony's independence in 1980, while Mbeki has been an advocate of so-called "quiet diplomacy" towards South Africa's northern neighbour.

"I welcome the determination of the countries of Southern Africa to tackle Zimbabwe's problems through SADC [Southern African Development Community] and President Mbeki's leadership bringing the two parties together," Blair told students in Johannesburg.

SADC heads of state entrusted Mbeki earlier this year with mediating between the Mugabe regime and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change following the violent arrest of several MDC leaders.

The political violence was a sign of the growing opposition to Mugabe in a country where inflation stands at over 3 000 percent and four out of five people are without work.

"In Zimbabwe decades of repression have forced up to one third of the country to flee," said the British prime minister.

"Life expectancy has dropped from 60 in 1990 to 37. And South Africa's economy loses 3% of GDP thanks to Zimbabwe's economic meltdown."

Blair said that it was the responsibility of the international community to help repair the damage in what was once seen as a post-colonial success story.

"The international community must of course be prepared to help rebuild the shattered country," he added.

"The world is waiting, wanting to re-engage with a reforming Zimbabwe government," he added.

Blair is on the final leg of a three-nation tour of Africa, his last trip to the continent before standing down in a month's time. -- Sapa-AFP
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    TSVANGIRAI "TRAPPED" BY MBEKI AND MUGABE!

    TSVANGIRAI "TRAPPED" BY MBEKI AND MUGABE!

    MT "TRAPPED" BY MBEKI AND MUGABE!