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Australia: Investing in Zimbabwe Risky

Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus
Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe says Harare’s rather “chaotic and unclear policies” make investing in the country risky, forcing his country to adopt a “wait and see” attitude.

Ambassador Mathew Neuhaus made the remarks while addressing the 'Africa Down Under' conference in Perth on Thursday. Neehaus also touched on the sensitive issue of President Robert Mugabe’s succession as having an impact on investment.

He said there must be a clear succession plan. Mr. Mugabe at 89 is the as the world’s oldest head of state. He has refused to talk about a possible successor saying there is no vacancy at state house.

But Neahaus also said a lot will depend on how the government deals with the opposition and civil society.

The Australian ambassador also described the marketing of diamonds in Marange as opaque saying the country is not realising much from the gems.

Neahus said a 51 percent quarter system in the controversial indigenization programme, if stretched over a long period, is doable but cautioned against Mr. Mugabe’s threat to take a 100 percent stake in companies.

The rift between Australia and Zimbabwe has widened since Australia called for a re-run of Zimbabwe’s July election.

Australia said the polls were rigged in favour of Zanu-PF, warning that sanctions against Harare will remain in place unless free and fair elections are held.

Mr. Mugabe has in turn blasted Western nations for alleged interference in Zimbabwe’s politics.

Economist and former president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Luxon Zembe, said clear policies are needed to attract investment in Zimbabwe.