Saturday, May 08, 2010

(HERALD) GPA principals blast sanctions

GPA principals blast sanctions
By Hebert Zharare recently in DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanza

THE three leaders of the inclusive Government unanimously told the 20th World Economic Forum on Africa in Tanzania on Thursday that no significant economic growth will be realised in Zimbabwe if illegal Western sanctions are not immediately lifted.

In his address to the WEF on Africa, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was leading a team of Zimbabwean business executives, said the West should only be guided by what Zimbabweans said.

He said Zimbabwe was safe for investment and business should not fear the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and its accompanying regulations.

"It does not make sense that some people from the same Government are not able to travel to some countries at the same time because of sanctions. Such a stance is not an endorsement of what we are trying to do in Zimbabwe. You must get guidance from what we are saying, not from what you believe or think about us," PM Tsvangirai said.

President Mugabe — who was in Dar-es-Salaam to attend a summit of Southern African liberation parties — was not billed to address the forum.

However, WEF founder and executive chairman Mr Klaus Schawab invited him to address the gathering.

The President’s arrival caused quite a stir as businesspeople and the media jostled to get a chance to speak to him.

Addressing the forum, President Mugabe said among all the countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Americans were the most honest because they made it clear that their embargoes went beyond personalities as they also blocked financial assistance.

He lambasted those who claimed the sanctions were targeted at Zanu-PF alone.

"Zimbabwean industries are driven by European technologies and the sanctions mean all these companies will not function," he said.

Britain internationalised its bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe over land, leading to the EU imposing the illegal embargo.

Responding to a question from a British journalist on the effects of the sanctions, President Mugabe said Air Force of Zimbabwe Hawk fighter jets, bought from Britain at the former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s recommendation, were grounded because of the sanctions.

In his address, Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara said: "Assume that the sanctions are targeted, but the impact is still felt on the whole country. The sanctions must go today in total. We do not need them."

PM Tsvangirai defended the indigenisation law saying it had been misconstrued as a tool to nationalise foreign-owned companies.

He said there was a lot of "hot air that had been blowing about indigenisation".

"Economic empowerment of the country’s citizens does not mean nationalisation of companies.

"We have the framework which sets the thresholds sector by sector," he said.

PM Tsvangirai said some Western investors were afraid of non-existent threats.

He made a comparison with Kenya, saying progress in Zimbabwe was more impressive, yet the West was pumping millions of dollars into the East African country.

"There are greater risks in Kenya than in Zimbabwe. How do you explain that? Capital must be bold and not behave like cowards," he said.

DPM Mutambara concurred and invited investors to flock to Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe told the delegates that for over a century, the British ruled the country and siphoned its resources and it was time indigenous people had a shot at improving themselves.

"Investors should come with the spirit of sharing with our people. We are not chasing away some investors, we are only asking for a fair share of the investment.

"In our view, a fair share of 49 percent is good enough," he said.

President Mugabe chronicled Zimbabwe’s history and said the idea of working together was not new.

He explained how Patriotic Front parties worked together before 1980 and how former Rhodesians were incorporated at independence.

"It was not difficult to reach out when the idea of the inclusive Government was discussed.

"In fact, working with other people did not start yesterday; it is ingrained in our parties. After the recommendations of Sadc we started discussing and discovering each other.

"In the beginning, we did not trust each other at all, we thought we would kill each other but it’s all over now.

"Yes, we have political differences, but we have this alliance," he said.

PM Tsvangirai said his differences with President Mugabe were once "legendary".

"Once the Sadc facilitation work began, we realised that there is no winner in a losing team.

"We declared peace and Zimbabweans supported it. This inclusive Government is not fragile; when we differ, we differ respectfully," he said.

Responding to Africa Sun chief executive officer Mr Shingi Munyeza — who wanted clarification on when Zimbabwe would have elections — PM Tsvangirai said it was premature to stage a poll.

"We have deliberately avoided announcing the dates for elections because we do not want the country to be in election mode again.

"We do not want to pit the election mood against national healing mood. We have some processes such as the constitution-making that are yet to be completed.

"When time comes, a date will be set through consensus. The important thing is that the inclusive Government is working and policies and decisions are being made by consensus," he said.

The 20th WEF on Africa ran under the theme "Rethinking Africa’s Growth Strategy".

Over 1 000 political leaders and business executives from 85 countries met to seek ways of attracting investment in Africa.

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