We're targeting at least 6 pct growth: Biti

DAKAR (Reuters) – Zimbabwe's devastated economy can post growth rates of at least 6 percent from this year onwards, its finance minister said on Tuesday, urging foreign investors to come forward or "miss the boat".

Tendai Biti, an ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told Reuters that South African investors in particular were showing interest after Tsvangirai and former rival President Robert Mugabe launched a unity government in February.

"We should be able to obtain sustainable growth rates in real terms of at least 6 percent," he said in an interview on the sidelines of an African Development Bank meeting in Dakar.

"We are beginning to resuscitate this carcass."

The new unity government says it needs about $8.5 billion to fix an economy hit by hyperinflation, 10 years of negative growth and with jobless levels soaring close to 95 percent.

African funding has so far touched $800 million but Western donors continue to withhold support over policy differences with Mugabe, and want to see political reforms before resuming help.

"Those who are sitting on the sidelines waiting for politics to completely resolve itself, waiting for what I call the landmine period to blow over, I think they will miss the boat.

"I think South African capital is ready to move and to move very quickly … We’ve got keen interest from business people in Botswana, in Mozambique and so forth," Biti added. 

Biti hailed government efforts to tackle hyperinflation, noting data showing a slight easing of prices, a result of the government’s decision to allow the use of hard currency and abandon the Zimbabwean dollar.

He said the state of near-collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy meant the global slowdown had to a large extent passed it by, but acknowledged that it would suffer the impact of falling trade flows as it sought to recover.

But he added: "If you ask me how long it will take us to get the economy to where it was in 1996, it will be a much, much faster level. We have reached rock bottom."