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Friction Within Zimbabwe Government As Britain Bars ZANU-PF Minister

The news that British authorities denied Zimbabwe Mining Minister Obert Mpofu a visa to take part in a London conference on the sector has sharpened divisions within Zimbabwe's unity government as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai nears the end of a Western tour.

Sources in the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe said party hardliners were urging Mr. Mugabe to call Mr. Tsvangirai home, but that support for that position was limited.

But Britain's enforcement of European Union travel sanctions on Mpofu, a ZANU-PF member, has angered those in the longtime ruling party who say Mr. Tsvangirai has been raising funds that will go to non-governmental organizations not to the power-sharing government.

They also say Mr. Tsvangirai has allowed ZANU-PF ministers traveling with him to be slighted by Western leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, who refused to receive ZANU-PF Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi with Mr. Tsvangirai on June 12 in Washington.

Mpofu is especially controversial among human rights activists because he dismissed reports of mass killings by the armed forces in the Marange diamond fields in Manicaland province.

Rights activists say more than 200 died as troops shot suspected diamond poachers.

Britain has not uniformly applied EU sanctions, though: it waived sanctions to grant visas to Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Tourism Minister Mzembi.

Following the mining conference in London on Friday, Mr. Tsvangirai urged investors in all sectors to consider ventures in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai spokeman James Maridadi told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that Mr. Tsvangirai also met with British members of parliament and other officials

Political analyst Glen Mpani said ZANU-PF must institute sweeping economic and political reforms if it is to realistically expect sanctions to be lifted.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...