THE UN has thrown its support behind new elections in Zimbabwe set for July and urged the government to kick-start the country’s economy as an ‘urgent priority.’
Achim Steiner, administrator for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was in Harare mid-March as part of a three-day trip during which he met Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
‘The UNDP is committed to continue supporting the preparatory process for the elections and economic recovery efforts,’ Steiner told reporters.
Mnangagwa repeated his pledge to hold free, fair and credible elections to President Cyril Ramaphosa when they meet in Harare at the weekend.
‘As a nation, party and government we are looking to very peaceful, transparent and free elections in July this year,’ Mnangagwa said.
Presidential polls are due by the end of August, when Mnangagwa will face his first major test after taking over from long-time strongman Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November after four decades in office.
Among Mnangagwa’s long to-do list is settling Zimbabwe’s flailing economy, which battled with hyperinflation during Mugabe’s time.
‘It is clear from my discussions with the president and government officials that jump-starting Zimbabwe’s economic recovery is an urgent priority,” Steiner said. “We commend steps being taken by government in terms of policy and legal reforms to improve the ease of doing business.’
Steiner said the UN last year provided more than $400m to Zimbabwe through donors across several sectors, including health and environment.
Last week Mugabe said in an interview that he was removed from power through a ‘coup d’etat,’ prompting Mnangagwa to declare the country ‘has moved on’ from his former boss.
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