Zimbabwe says “hostility of the West” holds off investment

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Western hostility towards Zimbabwe is deterring investment, the presidency spokesperson said on Tuesday. His comments are in sharp contrast with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s previous efforts to woo Western governments.

Mnangagwa has made progress in improving Zimbabwe’s relations with Western states before and after he won a July 30 presidential election, the first since the removal of long-time leader Robert Mugabe in a de facto coup last November.

But with a violent crackdown on opposition protesters by security forces after the election – a reminder to many of the repressive Mugabe era, the remarks by Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba signalled that his charm offensive towards the West may already be unravelling.

Mnangagwa’s victory is being challenged in Zimbabwe’s constitutional court this week by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who says the electoral commission rigged the vote. The commission has defended its independence.

Economists say that for the southern African country to revive its struggling economy it needs to clear its arrears with Western donors and agree a financing programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Charamba said Western states were preventing that.

“Of concern to investors is the continued hostility of the West, principally America which has been influencing IFIs (International Financial Institutions) negatively against Zimbabwe,” Charamba said in an emailed response to questions about investor concerns over the election.

“This has delayed a resolution to the debt question, itself the elephant in the room.”