Tsvangirai, ministers to lure western investment

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretoria - Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is to lead a team of ministers on an international tour to lure Western countries to urgently invest in Zimbabwe.

Foreign Affairs Director General Ayanda Ntsaluba said on Tuesday the decision was taken that Mr Tsvangirai, together with a team of ministers, will go to the major Western nations to see if they can partner in assisting Zimbabwe.

"The tour basically will be aimed at enticing investment," he said.

Zimbabwe's government, which is made up of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, is seeking $8.5 billion from international donors for its short-term emergency recovery program.

However, international donors have said they will only dispense aid once there is clear evidence of real change within the shattered country.

The United States and European Union maintain visa bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies linked to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, as well as embargoes on the sale of arms and equipment that could be used for internal repression.

Mr Ntsaluba said the region has begun to see progress in the union government, though it was still early stages.

He added that South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) remained committed to assisting in resolving the economic crisis in that country.

"South Africa will help in alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable in terms of targeted sectors like health and education and in terms of credit line," Mr Ntsaluba said.

Government is currently in discussions to determine how much it is prepared to give to Zimbabwe, but declined to speculate on how much.

"We'd prefer not to say how much is involved as discussions are still underway," Mr Ntsaluba said.

It was vital for other the SADC countries to join in helping out in Zimbabwe as the inclusive government there continued to work together as a unit.

"We continue to be encouraged by progress the inclusive government is making. We get a sense of greater coherence and commitment by all parties involved," Mr Ntsaluba said.

Zimbabwe Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma on Monday declared the Zimbabwe Dollar a dead currency.

He said it could be returned as a different currency or as notes, once inflation was under control.

Speaking in Pretoria, Mr Mangoma, who was in South Africa to lure South African business to invest in Zimbabwe, said officially the rand was the most favoured currency for trade while the US dollar, the Botswana pula and British pound were also allowed.

"The Zimbabwe dollar is dead. It is no longer being printed and not likely to be used for a year at least," he said.

Mr Mangoma said the role of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the powers of its governor have been reviewed and considerably reduced so that they no longer determine and pioneer economic policies and direction.

"It is the unity government that has agreed on the macro-economic framework and will be driving its implementation," Mr Mangoma said.

He assured South African businesses that his government would protect their investments.

An deal with the South African government on the protection of investments according to international conventions was being finalised.

The time was right for South African businesses to invest in Zimbabwe.