Zim to lop 10 zeros off currency

Zimbabwe will re-denominate its dollar by removing 10 zeros from August 1, central bank Governor Gideon Gono said on Wednesday.

”The Zimbabwe dollar will be redenominated by a factor of one to 10, which means we are removing ten zeros from our monetary value. Ten billion [Zimbabwean] dollars today [Wednesday] will be reduced to one dollar with effective from August 1,” Gono said in a television broadcast.

”The new currency will co-circulate together with the family of bearer cheques … which shall cease to be legal tender on the December 31 2008,” Gono said.

Intense pressure
Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki travels to Zimbabwe on Wednesday to meet President Robert Mugabe as part of his mediation in the country’s crisis talks, officials said.

Mbeki denied on Tuesday that talks between Zimbabwe’s rival parties had reached a deadlock, saying the power-sharing negotiations were going well and negotiators had adjourned to report back to their respective party leaders.

South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Mbeki met opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his negotiating team in Pretoria on Tuesday.

”The meetings are part of the president’s ongoing Southern African Development Community-mandated facilitation process in Zimbabwe,” the statement added.

Mbeki’s spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said that in Harare, Mbeki would also hold talks with Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller faction of the opposition MDC.

Senior negotiators from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the MDC started full talks last Thursday after the two rival leaders signed a framework deal on talks on July 21. The agreement set a two-week deadline that runs out on August 4, but it could be extended.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are under international pressure, including from within Africa, to negotiate a national-unity government to end a crisis that has ruined Zimbabwe’s economy and flooded neighbouring states with millions of refugees.

Tsvangirai won a first-round presidential vote in March but pulled out of a June second round citing violence that the MDC says has killed 120 of its supporters.

The MDC says only Tsvangirai can lead a new government.

Mbeki said the two sides were determined to keep to the timetable.

Concerned by the violence and the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union are pushing for a power-sharing deal.

Zanu-PF has said it will not accept any deal that fails to recognise Mugabe’s re-election or seeks to reverse his land-redistribution programme, under which the government has seized thousands of white-owned farms since 2000.

Critics say the seizures helped wreck the once-prosperous economy and bring food shortages and inflation now running at over two million percent, but the opposition has said it would not go back on the land seizures.

The parties also disagree over how long a national-unity government should remain in power. The MDC wants new elections held as soon as possible while Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980, wants to carry on with his new five-year mandate. — Reuters

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