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Engineers flee economic crisis in Zimbabwe

DEEPENING ECONOMIC crisis in Zimbabwe is forcing engineers to flee the country en masse.

Civil engineering consultants in the country are reporting that up to a third of their staff have already departed and more are planning to leave.

Keith Holhausen, who represents the 178 ICE members in Zimbabwe said: 'There is no future here. Half the experienced engineers are going; mostly to England, New Zealand, Australia and Botswana.'

Most contractors and consultants in the country are facing payment problems as clients suffer from 70% inflation, 52% interest rates and a lack of foreign exchange.

Foreign investment has also dried up. The World Bank and IMF have withdrawn funding from some aid projects and fears are growing that the US Congress will soon impose sanctions.

Public infrastructure projects have been hit by the government's cash shortfall and site work has been hindered by oil shortages and 50% fuel price rises. Some construction firms are working a three day week.

The crisis began when land reform protesters occupying the mainly white owned farms - which account for 40% of the country's foreign exchange revenue - in the run up to June's election. Last week president Robert Mugabe announced that a further 509 farms had been earmarked for seizure.

'We have gone into survival mode, ' said Scott Wilson chief executive for Africa, Dermot Knight. Other foreign consultants are having work sent out from head office or are bidding for work elsewhere in Africa.

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