German firm stops supplying blank banknotes to Zimbabwe

BERLIN, July 2, 2008 (AFP) – A German firm said Wednesday it has bowed to pressure and will stop supplying blank banknotes to Zimbabwe where the regime of Robert Mugabe fills them with ever increasing numbers of zeros. “By stopping with immediate effect we are taking into account the position of the (German) government and the international sanctions initiative of the EU and the UN,” Giesecke and Devrient GmbH spokesman Heiko Witzke said.

The Munich-based firm has supplied Zimbabwe for several years with the sheets of blank notes with security features like watermarks, which are then completed in the southern African country.

Once a vibrant economy, Zimbabwe has suffered a financial collapse in recent years with the Mugabe government responding to runaway inflation by printing more and more banknotes of ever dizzier denominations.

The firm, founded in 1852, also supplied banknotes to the Weimar Republic in 1920s Germany when it too was suffering from hyperinflation.

It also printed tickets for the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi-era Germany and currently provides banknotes to 60 countries including Germany.

German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul wrote to the company last week asking