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Biti: Incompetent State Lawyers Costing Zimbabwe Billions in Undervalued Deals

Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti says Harare is losing billions of dollars in potential revenue due to lack of a competent legal team that negotiates contracts with foreign investors.

As a result, Biti said, foreign investors are landing lucrative deals at the expense of the nation.

Biti was quoted in the state-run Herald newspaper as saying the country’s dependence on inexperienced lawyers in the attorney general’s office recently resulted in an unnamed investor getting a piece of land in Selous, Mashonaland West, stretching over 100 kilometers for only $200 million.

He said the investor should have paid at least $20 billion for the land in question which has 26 million ounces of platinum worth $56 million.

The government also signed what he termed disastrous deals with diamond companies in Marange, Manicaland province. Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, was not available for comment.

Economist Eric Bloch said such disastrous deals are common in Zimbabwe. “In some cases this involves corruption which prejudices the country of billions of dollars in potential revenue.”

Commercial law expert, Matshobana Ncube, told VOA that re-negotiating these contracts, should government decides to, could be an uphill task. “Business deals are normally conducted in a manner that both parties clearly understand provisions of their contracts,” said Ncube.