Tsvangirai seeks help in mining from the Aussies
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Mr Tsvangirai told The Australian that bilateral economic co-operation with Australia was very important to his country as stability returned and it prepared for growth.
The Zimbabwean democracy campaigner and opposition leader became Prime Minister in 2009 in a power-sharing agreement that followed years of civil rights abuses and brutal physical attacks that left Mr Tsvangirai badly injured.
He said he wanted to invite and convince Australian business that they needed to look at Zimbabwe again as a destination, "that the time to re-engage in Zimbabwe is now".
Australia's strong mining experience was especially important to Zimbabwe, he said. "A lot of mining expertise resides in Australia and we can benefit a lot from that co-operation with the Australian mining industry."
Mr Tsvangirai said there was no longer a security issue in his country: "It is purely a business consideration. The country is stable. It has all the minerals except oil. One can exploit gold, platinum, chrome, whatever.
"The country is going through a stabilisation program and I think we need to go to growth . . . and you can't have growth without investment."
He has also urged the Gillard government to suspend economic sanctions on his country until after the elections due there next year. He said sanctions could be imposed again if President Robert Mugabe and the "securocrats" who backed him prevented free and fair elections.
Mr Tsvangirai said while there was still much to be done in Zimbabwe, much had changed.
"What you need to do is make an assessment," he said. "Is there sufficient reform to warrant a reward and the encouragement of that reform? I think there is justification for the international community to remove sanctions because I think they've outlived their usefulness."
Hyper-inflation had been tamed, political reforms had been instituted, the new constitution was ready, electoral and human rights reforms had been accepted. And his once deeply antagonistic relationship with Mugabe had evolved into a working relationship. "We've moved on," he said.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson told ABC television yesterday the government was considering lifting sanctions.
"If (Mr Tsvangirai) indicates to us that there is a case for easing some sanctions, that is to reward the reformers and show the hardliners that reform does actually pay dividends, then we will be open to those sorts of arguments," he said.
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