Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mnangagwa should prove Zimbabwe is really open for business

Views
The hyped President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sojourn to China has come and gone. Of course the visit is politically key to Mnangagwa, who is looking to getting a fresh mandate to lead the country following former President Robert Mugabe’s ouster.
But, now is the time for Mnangagwa to prove that his oft-quoted mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ is not just political rhetoric, given the current influx of foreign investors or rather their increased enthusiasm to set up shop in the country.
This is the time for him and his lieutenants to walk the talk and remove all the endemic government red tape and bureaucracy that had become the hallmark of his predecessor Mugabe’s regime. No doubt no serious investor is prepared to pour their hard-earned investment into a cesspit or unpredictable business environment.
Evidence abounds that unlike her regional peers, Zimbabwe is lagging behind several years in terms of creating a conducive environment to attract foreign direct investment due to bureaucratic bungling coupled with policy inconsistencies.
Mnangagwa affirmed to that when he first visited China in 2015 and told China’s national broadcaster that Zimbabwe was 20 years behind her regional neighbours. It is, therefore, hoped now that he’s in charge Mnangagwa will create an environment conducive to business.
It is regrettable that some ministers have been accused of soliciting for bribes something which has chased away potential investors in the country, but the same old faces still remain part of Mnangagwa’s regime.
Indeed, Mnangagwa believes ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ but if his ministers adopt their unproductive yesteryear lackadaisical attitude in processing these projects, the economy will remain in the doldrums.
A number of companies have indicated their appetite to invest in the country, which government must embrace with the urgency it deserves.
All that investors want are guarantees of policy consistency, ease of doing business and a corrupt-free environment.
The $3 billion expression of interest shows that investors are warming up on Zimbabwe will remain pie in the sky if authorities do not reform by doing away with old ways of doing business.
Some of the projects which have generated a lot of interest are the platinum projects in which a Cyprus-based Karo Resources has committed to invest $4,2bn towards the development of a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe.
American giant General Electric has also shown a keen interest in investing in the country.
Africa’s top billionaire Aliko Dangote who visited the country in 2015 at the height of Zanu PF internal fights, on Monday deployed his technical team to revive the implementation of his projects in the country.
Mnangagwa’s recent visit to China also saw the signing of numerous agreements which if they come to fruition, will transform the country’s economic fortunes.
It must be understood that Zimbabweans have been suffering for years and, therefore, are desperately waiting for the economy to function again; to create jobs, good health systems, improve service delivery and reduce poverty levels.
But, endemic corruption in high places must be nipped in the bud!