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01 Aug 2009 08:53
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called for South African investment in his country.
“We believe South African companies are better placed to understand the environment in Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai said at a dinner with South African business and government officials in Sandton on Friday night.
“Instead of attracting foreign investment from Europe and other places, we believe that South African companies can operate in an environment that is almost similar [to their own].”
South Africans are in a position to understand the “politics, economics and potential of the country”, said Tsvangirai.
At the moment, the Zimbabwean government did not have the resources to make major infrastructure investments, “but if there are private companies who would like to go into private-public partnerships, they are welcome”.
Investment was needed particularly when it came to the rehabilitation of roads and building other infrastructure.
Tsvangirai said the Zimbabwean government was aware that the rule of law was critical in order for the country to attract foreign business investment.
“If business is an engine of economic growth, then the rule of law is the fuel that drives the engine.”
Yet, Tsvangirai said, the new government must be given time to stop all abuses of the law.
“We are only five months in government.
Bearing in mind that five months is not a long time, there has been a general decline in abuses of the law.
Tsvangirai said the uncertain political climate in Zimbabwe in the past decade had created a negative image of the country.
“This has caused key international partnerships created over long periods to be set aside or terminated to the detriment of the growth of industry.”
He said the country’s economic stability required access to foreign markets, finance, technology, skills and ideas.
On the fate of the Zimbabwe dollar, Tsvangirai said while he could not see it making a comeback in the short-term, the government was aware it was crucial for long-term economic growth.
“I don’t foresee in the short-term that we can reintroduce it.”
However when it was reintroduced, Tsvangirai said, it would be “not as a political decision, but an economic necessity”.
Tsvangirai also said the role of the country’s Reserve Bank governor was an “outstanding issue” that needed to be dealt with.
The governor had to have credible role with a mandate that was solely to supervise banks and control the country’s monetary policy.
However, Tsvangirai joked; “With [US] dollars and rands, what monetary policy do you control?”
When it came to issues around land reform and ownership, Tsvangirai said a land audit would take place before the establishment of an independent land commission.
“This issue must be deracialised and depoliticised. There is enough land for everyone, the biggest problem we face is how to make land productive.”
Earlier this month, the Zimbabwean government launched a campaign for national healing.
On Friday, Tsvangirai reiterated that compensation was not a definite outcome of the process of reconciliation, but had not been ruled-out.
“No one has come up with a policy of compensation. We have said we need to balance two things: The cries of the victims and the fears of the perpetrators.”
Tsvangirai said the government could not be “prescriptive” of how healing could take place. However, if after consultations reparations were suggested, it would considered.
“If reparation and recompensation is going to be the policy, so be it, but we also acknowledge the fact that whatever we are doing will never bring back our loved ones, our lost limbs, our pain. We need to move on but that does not mean we forget,” he said. - Sapa
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