Zimbabwe's new leader vows to open country to investors

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe will unveil a "robust" re-engagement policy and open to foreign investment after years of isolation, new President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Wednesday as he prepared to meet potential investors in regional power South Africa on his first official trip abroad.

Mnangagwa made his first State of the Nation address since taking power last month after longtime leader Robert Mugabe's dramatic resignation under pressure from the military and ruling party.

Under Mugabe, the once-prosperous southern African nation became a pariah as the United States and others imposed sanctions over human rights abuses. Laws threatening confiscation of foreign-owned businesses also kept investment at bay. Zimbabwe now faces a severe cash shortage and widespread unemployment that has forced millions to leave the country and others to turn to street vending.

Mnangagwa promised "zero tolerance" against corruption, calling it "the major source of some of the problems we face as a country."

He said Zimbabwe's "strict" visa regime will be relaxed to attract investors. He will visit neighboring South Africa on Thursday to meet potential investors and President Jacob Zuma.

Mnangagwa also urged businesses to show restraint after a massive spike in prices of food and household items in recent weeks.

Many including the opposition, which was shut out of the new Cabinet, are watching Mnangagwa closely to see whether the longtime Mugabe ally will deliver on promised reforms.

The new president again said next year's elections will be "credible, free and fair," which the U.S. and others consider a key step in reforms.

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