WASHINGTON DC —
Finance Patrick Chinamasa is pleading with South African investors as well as Zimbabwean businesses based in South Africa to invest in Zimbabwe.
Chinamasa told delegates at a recent investment conference in Johannesburg that the government is ready to listen to investors’ concerns and review its policies such as the controversial black empowerment programme compelling foreign-owned companies to transfer 51 percent of their shares to local people.
Chinamasa told investors and business that Zimbabwe is ready to receive and protect their investments.
Potential investors have over the years expressed concern at Harare’s vague indigenization policy and the land reforms that saw thousands of white commercial farmers losing their land without compensation.
But Chinamasa assured the investors that Harare is ready to listen to their concerns and adjust its policies where it is found that they provide unnecessary challenges to the investors.
“I believe South African investors have a moral and business obligation to invest in Zimbabwe your neighbour. This is the time to come. We are promising to offer you clear, consistent and predictable policy,” he said.
Chinamasa said Zimbabwe provides many investment opportunities in a number of sectors including electricity generation.
The minister admitted that the government has previously failed to properly communicate some of its investment policies, something he said, had become a source of frustration for potential investors.
He assured investors that the multi-currency system would remain in place to enhance financial predictability and stability.
Speaking on behalf of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Busisa Moyo, the Chief Executive Officer at the United Refineries in Bulawayo, said the business community was impressed by the government’s willingness to work together with business to help revive the country’s ailing economy.
He, however, urged the government to move with speed by providing an enabling environment that will make it easy to run profitable businesses in Zimbabwe.
Moyo also assured potential investors that the animosity that existed between government and business in the past decade has since been replaced by a mutual and respectful relationship.
“We need to look at the little foxes that spoil the vine and start to address the small things. How long does it take to register a company? How long does it take for me to get a factory licence, so these are little things but very important under the ease of doing business,” he said.
Moyo said he was excited that a number of potential investors had expressed interest in a variety of areas including tourism, mining, manufacturing and other sectors.
The South African government also urged its citizens to take up the business opportunities that Zimbabwe is offering.
However, South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela, expressed concern that trade between the two countries was still skewed in favour of South Africa and said this must change.
“It sees the giant is there and it’s going to wake up very soon and you need to be there on time. If South African companies want to be world players, they can’t afford just simply to be South African companies that export to other countries. They have to go out and find partnerships in other countries and build a bigger company,” said Mavimbela.
Meanwhile, some experts have warned that the on-going ugly jostling for positions within Zanu PF will keep a lot of investors on the fence. They say once the Zanu PF succession battle is settled, only then will it become clearer for potential investors on how to invest in Zimbabwe.
Chinamasa’s delegation to the investment conference in Johannesburg included Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Obert Mpofu and Trade and Industry Minister Mike Bimha.