No more money for Mugabe?

2nd July 2008, Comments 0 comments

A German firm is halting vital banknote paper deliveries to Zimbabwe

Berlin -- A German specialist paper firm said on Wednesday it had halted deliveries of banknote paper to Zimbabwe, following pressure from Berlin and criticism in the media that it was helping to prop up the government of President Robert Mugabe.

"We have complied with the demands of the German government and of international sanctions initiatives," a spokesman for the Munich- based company Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is reported to have phoned G&D chief executive Karsten Ottenberg.

The G&D spokesman declined to comment on the business relationship with the Zimbabwean central bank, citing client confidentiality.

Last Friday, Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul urged G&D to halt the deliveries, as human rights activists demonstrated in front of the company headquarters in Munich.

The deliveries have been widely reported in the German and British press, along with allegations that Mugabe is keeping himself in power by literally printing money to pay his ministers and supporters.

German press reports referred to regular deliveries of banknote paper, alleging that they were key to keeping Mugabe's regime in power by allowing him to pay his officials and the thugs who attack opponents.

The Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Saturday that G&D had received a payment of around 540,000 euros for its March delivery of bank note paper.

As a result, inflation in the southern African country has soared out of control, with analysts long having given up attempting to estimate the actual rate.

G&D is reported to provide banknote paper to more than 100 countries and to be the largest printer of euro banknotes.


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