CORRECTED - DAVOS-INTERVIEW-S.Africa to help rebuild Zimbabwe-president

Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:41pm GMT

(Corrects spelling of president's first name)

By Emma Thomasson

DAVOS, Switzerland Jan 30 (Reuters) - South Africa will help rebuild Zimbabwe once a unity government is formed there next month and hopes investors will return quickly, President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Thursday.

"This stage is really critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country," Motlanthe told Reuters at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort.

"We could very well establish a (joint commission) so our ministeries could cooperate in terms of that economic recovery plan," he said.

Regional leaders decided at a summit on Tuesday that a unity government should be formed next month, finally implementing a September power-sharing accord between Zimbabwe's rival parties that has been stalled over the allocation of key cabinet posts.

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has been worsened by a cholera outbreak which has killed nearly 3,100 people and infected some 59,000 across the country -- the worst death toll in Africa in 15 years from an outbreak of the normally preventable disease.

The United Nations said on Thursday that unemployment in Zimbabwe was 94 percent. Food and fuel are in short supply. The last official inflation rate, for July 2008, was 231 million percent.

Motlanthe said the first priority was to invest in infrastructure as the cholera outbreak was largely the result of burst pipes.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.