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Investment Starved Zimbabwe Pledges to Respect Rule of Law

A Zimbabwean minister says it is critical for the country to uphold the rule of law in order to attract meaningful foreign direct investment.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday assured a visiting top German official that Zimbabwe is committed to upholding the rule of law saying this is critical if the country is to lure international investors, which the country so desperately needs.

Addressing journalists after meeting the visiting German Foreign Office Director General for the Southern Africa and Sahel regions, Georg Schmidt, Chinamasa said Zimbabwe has prioritized maintaining the rule of law as the country re-engages the international community.

This, he said, is important as investors want predictable and stable environments.

Chinamasa said his discussion with Schmidt focused on the restoration of political and economic relations between the two countries and also Zimbabwe’s debt to international financial institutions and other countries.

Zimbabwe, which has an external debt estimated at $10 billion, owes Germany more than $700 million.

Chinamasa said the debt shows the level of economic co-operation between the two countries prior to economic sanctions slapped on Harare by the European Union in 2002 citing alleged vote rigging and rights abuses.

Schmidt, who is in the country to attend a two-day conference on the constitution and its implementation, said it is important for Harare to maintain and respect the rule of law, adding Germany is willing to support the country in its constitutional alignment process.

He said a successful process of constitutional alignment and economic reform will have a positive impact that will no doubt improve Germany’s economic relationship with Zimbabwe.

Schmidt said Germany would also be guided by Zimbabwe’s re-engagements with organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions.

International investors are also worried by Zimbabwe’s economic empowerment law which compels foreign-owned companies to cede 51 percent of their shareholding to local blacks.

Economic commentator Masimba Kuchera said it is encouraging that the government is now showing some willingness to uphold the rule of law, adding it is a clear sign of desperateness on the part of the government to lure international investors.

Meanwhile, telecommunications giant Econet Wireless and grocery manufacturer, National Foods, on Tuesday launched a new facility where Ecocash subscribers can send groceries to relatives and friends.

The EcoShopper service has various baskets of goodies ranging from $20 to $150.

Recipients of the groceries will receive a text message on their mobile phones and take it to any National Foods depot across the country to collect their groceries.

EcoCash executive, Natalie Jabangwe, said the sender will be charged the same tariff that is charged when sending money through Ecocash, adding the receiver will not be charged for receiving the groceries.