Tsvangirai urges UK to stop adverse publicity

HARARE – The Zimbabwean Prime Minister Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday approached the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Dr Andrew Pocock over reports that London was evacuating its elderly citizens from Zimbabwe.\r\n

Mr Tsvangirai said he phoned Dr Pocock and told him that he was dismayed at the British government’s actions because they dented international confidence in Zimbabwe.

The Prime Minister told business leaders during a chief executive officers’ roundtable meeting that he told the British ambassador of his displeasure at the action taken at a time when everybody was working to instil confidence in the inclusive Government.

"I spoke to the ambassador and he said his government was only taking the old people who cannot live on the paltry Government pensions. We want to see people coming to Zimbabwe and not being evacuated. This Government is doing everything to create credibility," Mr Tsvangirai said.

He said there was need to rebrand Zimbabwe as the country’s image had been seriously damaged.

Mr Tsvangirai reassured the business community that the broad-based agreement and the formation of the inclusive Government were permanent features and would not be reversed.

"The consummation of the Global Political Agreement and the resultant formation of this new transitional Government is not a temporary affair. Rather, it marks a definite and irreversible move to a new era of governance in Zimbabwe.

"It represents an acknowledgement that in order to move forward, all of us have a duty to work together to overcome the numerous challenges facing our country."

Inviting the business leaders to join Government to rebuild Zimbabwe, he said the new set-up ushers in an era where national interest is placed above political party or individual interests.

He said the Government was actively engaging the South African government over the use of the rand as legal tender.

He told the business leaders that as Prime Minister, he was responsible for overseeing the formulation of policies by Cabinet and ensuring their efficient and effective implementation.

He encouraged the convening of regular meetings and the maintenance of transparent communication channels between his office and the business community to rebuild the economy.

Mr Tsvangirai set out the national priorities for the inclusive Government, which include protection of people’s freedoms, addressing the humanitarian crisis and economic stabilisation which, in turn, would spur business confidence, commercial and industrial growth.

"The uncertain political climate over the years has created a negative image of the country internationally and this has caused unnecessary international partnerships created over long periods to be set aside, postponed and cancelled to the detriment of the growth of industry," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said millions of Zimbabweans who left the country would be attracted back to contribute to the growth of the country.

He encouraged the business community to re-evaluate their business models to match those of

Government and to desist from overpricing their goods, which are often pegged at twice the prices in South Africa.

He said business should pay wages and provide working conditions that are in line with the new dispensation and the skills retention policies that Government would implement.

"In line with our goal of reviving the local industry, we are exploring avenues through which local producers and suppliers can access lines of credit in order to increase and improve production and revenue."

The Prime Minister said he would work to restore in full, the true value of export industries that include gold, diamonds, platinum, horticulture and manufacturing exports.

He said corruption would be decisively dealt with.