PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is trying to lure foreign investors, but acknowledged Thursday that rifts within his coalition government make that difficult.
In a speech at an investment forum in neighboring South Africa, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he wants more economic benefits for black Zimbabweans.
But, he said, a recent threat by Zimbabwe’s black empowerment minister “has caused a lot of consternation, but this is a price that we are paying as a coalition government which has no shared vision and no shared values.”
Zimbabwe’s black empowerment minister threatened to take over the country’s biggest platinum mine if the South African owners don’t hand over more stakes to black Zimbabweans.
The empowerment minister is a member of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, which for the last three years has governed in a fractious alliance with former rivals from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change.
More broadly, Tsvangirai charged that the black empowerment campaign, known in Zimbabwe as indigenisation, was being implemented to benefit an elite group.
“Our problem is that our coalition partners have bastardized a noble principle into a populist election campaign issue,” he said.
Mugabe has said he would call elections this year to end the coalition.
But on Thursday Tsvangirai told reporters after his speech that a vote could not be held until a new constitution had been written and adopted by the people, and other steps taken to ensure free and fair elections.
Tsvangirai did not say when he expected Zimbabwe to be ready to vote, but few observers think the conditions he described could be in place this year.
Tsvangirai also said Mugabe had no power to call elections unilaterally. An agreement hammered out by regional leaders that created the coalition, Tsvangirai said, “says very clearly, the president in consultation with the prime minister shall set the date of the elections.”
While Tsvangirai repeatedly expressed frustration at the coalition government Thursday, he said he was committed to it as a framework for peacefully resolving his country’s problems.
No Zanu PF ministers accompanied Tsvangirai to Johannesburg. Members of his party and an allied party with economic portfolios did accompany him, among them Finance Minister Tendai Biti.
Biti referred to another source of contention within the governing party: suspicions mining officials loyal to Mugabe are diverting profits from Zimbabwe’s diamond fields from the national treasury to Zanu PF.
Biti said that after a recent fact-finding trip to Marange, the diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, he was convinced the government was receiving only a small portion of what it was due.
“How do we make sure that Zimbabwean resources work for the people of Zimbabwe?” Biti said at a news conference.