Zimbabwe mining
Zimbabwe's mining sector is expected to shrink by 1.9% in 2014 according to gloomy government predictions Reuters

The International Monetary Fund must restore confidence in the country's economy amid sliding growth prospects and a weak business sentiment.

"With regard to Zimbabwe, economic conditions remain difficult," the IMF's Africa director Antoinette Sayeh said in a news conference.

Zimbabwe's gross domestic product had been set to increase by 6.4% this year but the government revised the figure downwards to 3.1%, meaning the country's economy will be one of the region's slowest growing this year.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is expected to expand at an average growth rate of 5% this year, according to the IMF, while regional growth is expected to reach 5.75% in 2015.

At the core of Zimbabwe's disappointing growth figures is the country's ailing mining sector, which the government had previously forecasted to grow at around 10.7% in 2014. That figure has been dramatically revised downward, with the sector now expected to contract by 1.9% in 2014, according to Xinhua news agency.

Sayeh said had held talks with government officials over its economic reform programme and highlighted a handful of key issues.

These included "restoring confidence and stability in Zimbabwe's financial sector... and enhancing the business environment with a view to attracting investments," Sayeh said.

Zimbabwe's economy has consistently posted slow growth rates since the turn of the century. Its government owes domestic and foreign creditors around $9bn (£5.6bn, €7.1bn) while its controversial president Robert Mugabe has scared off foreign investors through legislation curbing foreign ownership of assets in the country.

Mugabe has defended the law as a necessary to protect the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans.