10 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Biti Criticised for 'Doing Zanu-PF Work'

Finance Minister Tendai Biti is facing criticism for 'doing ZANU PF work' by pushing for international investment in and support for Zimbabwe, despite that party's ongoing control of the country.

Biti was this week in Canada where he pushed for the removal of targeted restrictive sanctions against the Robert Mugabe regime, resulting in anger from many observers who said such a move only benefits ZANU PF and not Zimbabwe.

The MDC-T minister then travelled to London where he is expected to address potential investors this week, alongside Industry Minister Welshman Ncube. Dubbed the ZimInvest London 2013 Forum, the two-day event is being held under the theme: "Why Zimbabwe Matters."

According to event organisers Country Factor, the forum is a platform for "promoting opportunities to investors interested in partnering in Zimbabwe's development across key sectors in the economy including energy, mining, agriculture, infrastructure, privatisation, services, banking and manufacturing."

Alongside Biti and Ncube will be speakers like Chamber of Mines president Winston Chitando and NetOne managing director Reward Kangai, a known ZANU PF functionary.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that it is, "premature for the MDC to be in the driving seat to call for the lifting of sanctions," and exploring business opportunities that benefit ZANU PF. He said that the "political cabal of ZANU PF hardliners" have imposed their own internal sanctions on Zimbabwe, which should be removed first.

"I believe that charity begins at home. There are these internal sanctions that ZANU PF has put on the people in Zimbabwe in terms of exercising fundamental liberties and human rights....so I don't know what has happened in the relationship between ZANU PF and the MDC that the MDC is now driving the call for sanctions removal," Ruhanya said.

He also said that while Biti's proactive push for investment at this week's London meeting was part of the MDC-T's JUICE investment policy, it leaves the party "in a Catch 22."

"The problem lies in that, what happens should the MDC lose power in the next election? So does Biti know something we don't? Is there something he understands in terms of the political future?" Ruhanya asked.

Meanwhile, following Biti's Canadian visit, that country's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said its targeted sanctions would remain in place. According to Baird's spokesman, Rick Roth, Canada is "continuously reviewing (its) sanctions regime," but the measures against Mugabe would not yet ease.

According to the Canadian press, Baird used the meeting with Biti to express Canada's views on the need for continued political reform in Zimbabwe, including a referendum on a new constitution, free and fair elections, and the respect for human rights.

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