Munich firm told to stop supplying Zimbabwe with banknote paper

Germany said Friday it has asked a Munich-based firm to stop supplying Zimbabwe with paper used for banknotes because of concerns it was helping prop up President Robert Mugabe's regime.

There is “serious concern” that the supplies are “providing additional support to the system in Zimbabwe, which from our point of view is not acceptable,” a spokesman for the Development Ministry said.

Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul “has written to the firm asking it to stop immediately the shipments,” the spokesman told a news conference.

Officials from the firm, Giesecke and Devrient, were unavailable for comment.

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 higher denominations. The rate of inflation is officially put at 165,000 percent but economists believe it is many times higher still.

Zimbabweans voted in a presidential runoff election on Friday with Mugabe the only candidate after opposition leader and first round winner Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew because of violence.

The European Commission slammed Friday the election as a “sham” whose result will be “hollow and meaningless.”