While urging Zimbabweans to return home, affable Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday made light of Wednesday’s announcement by Finance Minister Tendai Biti that the country expected to experienced a 4.7% economic growth rate this year.
Speaking at a press conference in Sea Point, Tsvangirai said it was “easy to achieve economic growth after the economy has shrunk by 50% and hit rock bottom.”
He said even a small increase in mining, tourism and manufacturing activity would create growth.
However, he said the growth forecast indicated that Zimbabwe was getting back on track and he urged the over four million Zimbabweans who had left home to return and help reconstruct and develop the country so that it could once again be breadbasket of Africa rather than the “basket case”.
Tsvangirai is in South Africa on Thursday and Friday in a bid to get his countrymen and women to return home.
Together with a team of government ministers, he has been attending a two-day conference in Franschoek titled ‘The Challenges of Economic Reconstruction’ organised by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and funded by the Royal Danish Embassy.
With the government delegation he has been holding talks with prominent figures in Zimbabwe’s diaspora from business, investment and civil society sectors.
Addressing the press on Thursday evening, he said things had “definitely changed for the better” in Zimbabwe since the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in September last year.
Schools and hospitals had reopened, hyper inflation had been curbed by doing away with Zimbabwean Dollar, and the economy had stabilised.
He said the inclusive government, which was “stabilising” was doing what it could to provide a positive environment for returning Zimbabweans and it was up to individuals to make use of the new opportunities being created.
He said confidence among foreign investors was slowly increasing and Biti’s budget speech this week would further ward off investors fears.
“We’re turning a new chapter and that chapter is providing opportunities for Zimbabweans who are probably now living in worse conditions abroad (than they would at home).”
Questioned over his recent boycott of the unity government Cabinet for three weeks in October, he said he did it because the GPA was not being adhered to.
He said the move brought in the SADC mediators who vindicated him and enabled negotiations to take place which have led to subsequent agreements on the implementation of the GPA.
Tsvangirai was also questioned both by the press and later by the public in a subsequent open address over how Zuma’s team of negotiators fared compared to Mbeki’s much criticised ‘quiet democracy’ approach, Tsvangirai remained diplomatic.
He said Mbeki and his team were dealing with difficult “substantive issues” whereas Zuma and his team had a much easier time of it as they only had to ensure implementation of the agreements already brokered.
However, he praised Zuma’s team for displaying an enthusiasm to get things moving.
Introducing Tsvangirai to the public audience, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation executive director Dr Fanie du Toit waylaid criticism of Tsvangirai being labelled a Zanu-PF collaborator by comparing his ability to look his political foe in the eye and work with him with the aim of brokering a peaceful transition, to that of Nelson Mandela brokering peace with FW de Klerk and the apartheid ministers. – West Cape News