Business vs. politics

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced recently that from now on his country would make business the focus of its foreign policy.

In other words, their foreign policy will now focus on paving the way for British companies to find markets, create employment and generate tax revenues for the country.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday met US President Barack Obama. High on the agenda was the difficulty in which a British company, BP, finds itself in the US in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Cameron went in to bat for BP.

In glaring contrast, President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) ministers never miss an opportunity to denounce the business community in Zimbabwe. Only last week Mugabe was rubbishing one of Zimbabwes largest mining houses, Zimplats, and its chief executive officer, Alex Mhembere.

This is despite the fact that Zimplats has a well documented and much respected corporate social responsibility programme. The platinum mining company has built tarred roads, schools and clinics for the local population in the Mhondoro/Ngezi area where it operates.

It employs thousands of Zimbabweans, and accommodates them in decent houses built by the company. This is a good corporate citizen.

We can only speculate that Mugabes attack is perhaps motivated by a desire to pressurise the company into giving money to Zanu (PF). We know that several companies regularly hand over brown envelopes to government officials in return for protection.

Most businessmen have hair-raising tales of how they survive in the hostile political environment. It is difficult enough doing business in the current economic climate. But in Zimbabwe there are several hurdles ,which businessmen must jump in order to be able to do business. Over and above that, businessmen are constantly fleeced by Zanu (PF) officials raising money for one preposterous celebration or the other Independence Day, Mugabes birthday, election victories, etc.

Civil servants are also known to demand bribes in order to do their jobs. Then there is the ever present threat of Zanu (PF) wanting to grab any successful concern under the guise of indigenisation or some other such scheme.

Little wonder, then, that our unemployment is tipping the scale at a mind boggling 95% – according to official estimates – and the long-awaited, desperately-needed economic recovery has not materialised.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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