German Company Stops Bank Note Shipments to Zimbabwe | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.07.2008
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German Company Stops Bank Note Shipments to Zimbabwe

A German company, facing international criticism, agreed to stop delivering bank note paper to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Critics claim the money helped prop up the government of President Robert Mugabe.

A 200,000 Zimbabwean dollar note

This is worth next to nothing in Zimbabwe

Giesecke & Devrient announced that it will stop supplying Zimbabwe with paper used to print money. The Munich company said its decision was made in response to an official request from the German government and calls for international sanctions on Zimbabwe by the European Union and United Nations.

"Our decision takes account of concerns about the worsening political situation in Zimbabwe which we had expected to improve," Karsten Ottenberg, managing director of Giesecke & Devrient said in a statement released Tuesday, July 1. "It also reflects the critical views from the international community, the government and general public."

Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic meltdown and economists say the inflation rate is at least 2 million percent.

Mugabe, under criticism for the violence leading up to last week's run-off elections, is said to be keeping himself in power by printing money to pay his ministers and supporters.

Calls for sanctions

The violence leading up to the elections and the country's continued runaway inflation have led some nations to call for UN sanctions.

A dozen human rights activists demonstrated in front of the company headquarters on Friday, holding up banners reading: "No cash for terror."

Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul made an official request last week that the paper shipments stop, saying that the money was helping to keep Mugabe in power.

The firm is believed to have supplied about half of the country's currency, according to media reports. Giesecke & Devrient reportedly provides banknote paper to more than 100 countries and is thought to be the largest printer of euro banknotes.

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