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PM Tsvangirai Courts Investors Even As He Urges World Action on Zimbabwe

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Speaking ahead of the summit Mr. Tsvangirai told the London Times that Zimbabwe needed outside help to ensure President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party respect the will of the people in the next elections

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sought to court investors in London late Monday - a day after calling on the international community to intervene in his country's long-running political crisis to prevent a replay of the disputed and violence-filled 2008 vote.

Mr. Tsvangirai touted Zimbabwe's vast business opportunities, but said he regretted that potential investors were being kept away by "bad politics."

"We have many opportunities in mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, and our quest to attract investment has been marred by our bad politics and a poorly crafted empowerment law which has largely scared away investors," Tsvangirai told an African business summit in the British capital.

But he appeared to downplay the impact posed by Harare's controversial black empowerment policy saying it had been watered down to allow for a conducive business environment.

"We have successfully managed to mitigate the excesses of this law," the prime minister said, "because we are an uneasy coalition, but the ultimate answer will lie in a free and fair election as a precondition for a legitimate government in Zimbabwe."

Speaking ahead of the summit Mr. Tsvangirai told the London Times that Zimbabwe needed outside help to ensure President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party respect the will of the people in the next elections.

He said: “My call to the world is you must insist on the necessary reforms to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections and a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.”

Mr. Tsvangirai, leader of the so-called main formation of the Movement for Democratic Change, added that Zimbabwe wanted to be part of the international community and not be "treated as a pariah state."

For the past ten years, Zimbabwe has suffered international isolation by Western countries including the U.S. and Great Britain, protesting human rights abuses by the Mugabe administration.

Emphasizing Tsvangirai's point, MDC deputy spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo urged world leaders to act now to prevent a full-blown Zimbabwe crisis.

"The greatest challenge we are facing as Africa is that when we raise crisis, the international community seems to pay a blind eye," Khumalo said, adding: "They only act when genocide has occurred, and a good example is Rwanda."

But political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda argued the international community had lost interest in Zimbabwe. "There is no appetite for intervention in Zimbabwe. The country is now on the back burner," he said.

Another analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that he had no doubt Mr Mugabe will disregard the outcome of the next election even if he loses the vote.

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