An anticipated clash of economic and social philosophies failed to materialize Tuesday at the Euromoney Investment Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, as President Robert Mugabe sent his apologies leaving Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to pitch the country's attractions to about 300 international investors.
Mr. Mugabe, who recently threatened to seize foreign-owned firms if Western sanctions are not lifted, said he had an earlier engagement in Harare.
Mr. Tsvangirai, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Investment Minister Tapiwa Mashakada, among other officials, told conference delegates that they should consider direct investment in the country despite considerable political uncertainty.
Mr. Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe needs free and fair elections to attract foreign investment. “We cannot attract foreign investors without fully implementing the Global Political Agreement [for power sharing] signed by the three parties,” he said.
Taking a shot at ZANU-PF, Mr. Tsvangirai said that one party in the unity government party has not abandoned its culture of violence, leaving investors skeptical.
British Ambassador Mark Canning, who attended the opening ceremony, said the conference will do much to highlight Zimbabwe’s economic potential.
Economist Eric Bloch said he believes President Mugabe stayed away to avoid telling delegates his party wants to seize foreign-owned firms.