Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his two fellow principals in the country's fractious government of national unity are expected to reassure international investors at a two-day Euromoney conference organized this week in the capital, Harare.
The conference will examine topics ranging from the controversial indigenization program being pushed by Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party to the longer-term opportunities for investors notwithstanding political challenges and risks evident today.
Government officials said Zimbabwe needs Euromoney’s endorsement as a destination for global capital. President Mugabe will open the summit which will also be addressed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Harare economist John Robertson said the conference will give Zimbabwean authorities an opportunity to explain recent radical utterances on seizing foreign-owned companies.
“Most of the statements from government will be efforts to pacify the concerns of investors that have been badly disturbed by some sections of the unity government calling for the nationalization of private companies,” said Robertson.
Indigenization or black empowerment is a cornerstone of Mr. Mugabe's expected bid for re-election this year or next, and his ZANU-PF party has aggressively pushed the notion that majority control of large enterprises, especially those owned by foreigners, should shift to indigenous black Zimbabweans through uncertain mechanisms.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai has not opposed indigenization in principle but has warned that threatening to expropriate assets is not likely to induce inflows of capital.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently projected that the economy could expand by 9.3 percent in 2011 despite lack of significant foreign direct investment.