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Zimbabwe PM Says 'Poisonous Politics' Blocking Economic Recovery

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday that the country's “bad and poisonous politics” have derailed the nation's efforts to revive its troubled economy, smarting from record-breaking hyperinflation.

Addressing a business conference in Bulawayo, Mr. Tsvangirai said the inclusive government, formed in 2009 following an inconclusive election, has bickered more than it has agreed on how to deal with the country's challenges.

"Our major set-back in dealing with these challenges to achieve our full potential has been our bad and poisonous politics," he said, adding that "our uneasy coalition has bickered more than it has collaborated to set the correct tone for economic growth and development."

Mr. Tsvangirai, leader of the mainstream MDC formation and President Robert Mugabe have crossed paths on several policy issues, including the controversial black empowerment drive, seen by critics as scaring away investors.

Where the MDC and President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have put aside their differences and found common ground, the government has made strides in improving the country’s fortunes, Tsvangirai said, adding that the closure of campanies due to viability problems remained a challenge.

"Closed companies, old equipment, retrenched workers and ghost towns have been the story of Zimbabwe and we need to avail resources to resuscitate these companies.

"This is why as government, we set up Dimaf, a $40 million collaborative fund between government and Old Mutual Zimbabwe (OMZ) to bail out distressed firms here in Bulawayo," Tsvangirai told exhibitors attending this year's trade showcase, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

In Bulawayo alone, 80 companies have closed down in the past decade, leaving over 20,000 workers jobless.

Mr. Tsvangirai said there was need for government to move with speed to restore the collateral value of land and other commercial assets to allow recapitalization.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joice Mujuru, emphasized in a speech read on her behalf by Mines Minister Obert mpofu, the need for transparency in dealing with the country's natural resources to boost economic revival.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube urged government to create favorable conditions for business activities to promote growth.

He said the government should use the country's abundant raw materials to provide goods and services, encouraging Zimbabweans to buy locally-produced goods.

The ZITF international business conference, which ran under the theme "Investing Locally, Building Local Capacity and Reaping Dividends Globally" was attended by local and foreign exhibitors as well as senior government officials, among them deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.