Zimbabwe finance minister predicts growth, inflation fall

HARARE, Nov 30, 2006 (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s finance minister predicted Thursday marginal economic growth in the coming year and that the country’s four-figure inflation rate would dip to 350 percent as he presented the budget for 2007.

“The economy is expected to grow marginally by between 0.5 percent and one percent in 2007,” Herbert Murerwa told members of parliament in Harare.

The projected growth would result from “good weather, stabilising of commodity prices, improved mineral deposits and growing number of tourist arrivals,” Murerwa said.

The country’s agriculture sector was expected to grow by 6.4 percent because of good rains anticipated in the current farming season, he said.

Agriculture was one of the pillars of Zimbabwe’s economy before the government launched controversial land reforms seizing properties from white farmers for redistribution.

The land often ended up in the hands of landless blacks who lacked the means and skills to farm or with associates of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotiv Front (ZANU-PF) regime who rarely stayed on their farmsteads.

Mining was expected to benefit from favourable international mineral prices and grow by 4.9 percent.

Murerwa said inflation