Investment conference on Zimbabwe opens in Johannesburg

A two-day trade and investment conference aimed at attracting foreign investors to Zimbabwe has opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tendai Biti
Tendai Biti

The business event, running under the theme, ‘Realizing Zimbabwe Investment Potential’ is being attended by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, several cabinet ministers and captains of industry from Harare.

This high-powered delegation will address members of the South African business community on investment opportunities in Zimbabwe as part of efforts to attract new investment.

Reports indicate that the country is desperate for alternative sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) to plug the gap likely to be created due to a decline in investors from Europe because of an impending recession.

However, foreign investors, multilateral institutions and states are still very wary of investing in Zimbabwe. The fact that the ageing Robert Mugabe is still a key player makes many people concerned about the levels of political risk in Zimbabwe.

For over decade now the country has struggled to attract foreign aid and investment because of Mugabe’s policies, which include a plan for indigenous companies to acquire 51 percent shares in foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks.

Talks to improve the country’s image abroad have also stalled over slow political reforms in Harare. The country’s once-vibrant economy was shattered by the former ruling party’s policies, particularly the violent seizure of commercial farms with no compensation.

But a unity government formed in 2009 slowed the economy's 10 year free-fall and brought an end to the crippling inflation.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti urged people invest in Zimbabwe, saying the world was wrong to wait instead of helping the nation to revive itself.

He admitted the country needs to fix its political climate in order to attract more investors, adding that ‘we have to develop a model to make our politics sustainable.’

Economic analyst Luke Zunga told SW Radio Africa that peace and stability is a prerequisite condition for attracting investors into the country, but he said the political situation was discouraging investors.

‘Foreign investment can only come into the country if stability is assured. Political stability has been and will always be the main attraction for foreigners to invest in a country. What you have now is a vindictive minister (Saviour Kasukuwere) chasing away investors in the mining sector.

‘Zimbabwe has been independent for almost 32 years now but political upheavals in the three decades have had an adverse effect. More investors have left the country and they will only come back if there is economical and political stability, which remains the main draw for foreign investors,’ Zunga added. – SW Africa Radio News

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