Johannesburg, South Africa
Thursday, I March 2012
The Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and convenor of this forum, Hon. Dr Tapiwa Mashakada,
Ministers and senior Government officials from Zimbabwe here present
Hon. Ministers and senior Government officials from South Africa
Business people and prospective investors,
Invited Guests, Ladies and gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I thank the organizers of this important conference for inviting me to be part of this momentous event.
Four years ago, in 2008 in particular, it would not have made any sense at all to host such an event to call for investment in Zimbabwe.
We had unprecedented hyperinflation, Z$ 1 billion could barely buy you three eggs, education and health had collapsed and there was massive violence in the country.
Today’s event is therefore a testimony of the painstaking journey we have travelled towards normalizing the political, social and economic environment in our country.
We are not there yet. But the fact that we are here today, talking about investment in Zimbabwe, is evidence that we remain a country of hope; indeed a nation of a resilient and hard-working people that wants the best for their country.
Only last week I addressed a CEO’s round-table conference in Victoria Falls where we were deliberating on our collective vision of a $100 billion economy by 2040. This tells you how as Zimbabweans, we have sought to unleash our dreams and to make the necessary steps for a sound economic future.
Over the past year, I have attended several investment fora in and outside Zimbabwe and I have been heartened by renewed business confidence in our country despite the political problems still dogging us.
As Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in the past three years, I have taken partin lively panel discussions and held bilateral meetings with investors across the globe who are keen to put their money in Zimbabwe.
This conference is another platform where yet another group of business people is keen to explore opportunities in our great and beautiful country; a nation endowed with vast resources and a hard-working and committed people.
This conference is taking place against a background of renewed economic confidence and revival as indicated by the increasing number of business and foreign delegations that are visiting the country to explore business opportunities.
Indeed, Zimbabwe can attain high levels of growth if we put in place competitive policies to attract investment and if we are globally compliant in the manner that we conduct business.
We should equally strive to put in place best international practices which bode well for attracting foreign direct investment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the formation of the inclusive government gave us the much needed political stability to bring back business confidence and investor interest in the country.
It remains important at a political level to support business by creating and introducing reforms that are essential for economic growth.
I would want to say here that so much has been said of the abundant natural resources that our country is bestowed with as well as its hard working citizens. Unfortunately this has not translated into desired levels of economic growth and investment inflows largely due to policy inconsistencies and policy unpredictability.
Zimbabwe’s diamond wealth alone could realise billions of dollars per year if this valuable asset is exploited transparently in line with regional best practices.
So far, pretty little has been realised from the sale of diamonds because of the murky manner in which these resources are being mined and sold. As a government, we have asked the responsible Ministry to work with other stakeholders and ensure transparency across the value chain, from extraction to the marketing of this important national resource.
This is important because investment opportunities are enhanced when government begins to create a transparent business environment and this cannot happen when government itself is not transparent.
Vast opportunities exist in our country. From mining, manufacturing, tourism and many other sectors, opportunities galore for people wishing to do business in Zimbabwe. But I want to be honest with you by saying that our investment environment has been worsened by the mixed messages coming from the same government especially on the issue of indigenisation.
Some of us in this government believe in broad-based economic empowerment of the ordinary person and not the enrichment of the elite as envisaged by some of our coalition partners.
We agree with the principle but differ greatly with the implementation and the execution of indigenisation in the current framework as it has embarrassed government and made many investors to by-pass us as a destination or to develop a wait-and-see attitude.
I know that the business community here in South Africa has been following the Implats case in Zimbabwe, where despite a BIPPA arrangement, the Minister for Indigenisation has now given a two-week deadline to the investors to reduce their shareholding. I know that this has caused a lot of consternation but this is a price that we are paying as a coalition government which has no shared vision and no shared values.
The same voracious appetite to grab has caused great anxiety in the banking sector, which some in our inclusive government want to indigenize all banks, and we have a raging debate whether the message we are sending is the right one.
Is this the right message from a fragile economy wishing for investment in order to create jobs for millions of its people and expand the economy?
Our problem is that our coalition partners have bastardised a noble principle into a populist election campaign issue simply for political expediency.
For some of us, our vision is a fool-proof plan that creates jobs and empowers the ordinary person and not a few, well connected elite. Wild political jingoism and an unmitigated cowboy attitude have never been a proper substitute for a true investment and empowerment plan for the people.We have to strike a delicate balance between investment promotion and the need to need to empower the people. It is not in the interest of Zimbabwe to come up with an indigenisation plan that enriches a few and scares away investors.
We have tried to mitigate the excesses of this law by saying investors will cede for value, but our people have no money to buy the 51 per cent equity.
Moreover, what we are calling community share ownership schemes in the mining sector remain mere certificates which are not translating into direct value for the ordinary Zimbabwean who is surviving on less that US$1 a day.
Glaring policy inconsistencies and mixed messages from the inclusive government are the proper recipe for turning away investors and making them develop a wait-and-see attitude.
In my interaction with the business community over the years, I have come to know that policy consistency and policy predictability are the biggest threats to investment and these are obviously difficult to achieve in an uneasy coalition like ours.
But despite all this, ladies and gentlemen, there has been somemarked improvement in the doing-business-environment in Zimbabwe, with the launch in 2010 of the One-Stop-Shop Investment Centre by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.
This launch marked a giant step towards reforming the investment climate for the benefit of the would-be investor as well as keeping pace with international best practice.
On our part, we need to make sure that we consolidate the good things we have done so far to make ourselves an attractive investment destination.
We have to ensure that Zimbabwe is peaceful and free from violence; that we maintain peace and stability; that we respect the rule of law and that we honour the BIPPAS we have signed.
A peaceful country without violence and without policy inconsistencies is a natural destination for investment.
We will strive to ensure that our beloved country remains a firm favourite for serious investors so that we can create jobs and prosper the nation and its people.
I think that there has been some movement in the restoration of political stability since the formation of the inclusive government in 2009.
But over the last few months, there has been a lot of mixed messages and hype arising out of misplaced election talk.
And I know that investors are keen to know when the next election will be held in Zimbabwe.
The date for the next election in Zimbabwe is process-driven. Only after we complete the Constitution-making process and implement the key political, electoral and media reforms as agreed under the facilitation of SADC will the President and I sit down and agree on the date for the next election.
That is what we agreed at the inception of this inclusive government and only after the implementation of these reforms can we have a free, fair and credible election that does not produce another contested outcome. Only a free and fair election will lead to a credible and legitimate government with a coherent policy that can guarantee policy consistency and policy predictability.
We need the support of everyone, especially SADC and the AU as the guarantors of our interparty agreement, to assist in the holding of a violence-free election where the security of the person, the security of the vote and the security of the people’s will are guaranteed.
Only a legitimately elected government, and not a coalition, can develop and implement a common vision and programmes that will deal with the massive unemployment and poverty that we currently face as a country.
Our vision is of a Zimbabwewith a clear transformation programme in all sectors underpinned by political reforms, a commitment to the rule of law, defense of property rights, reward of individual effort and prosperity of the ordinary person.
The challenge for us as the new crop of leaders is to embark on an aggressive programmeof infrastructurerehabilitation, resuscitation of our manufacturing potential and increasing our mining and agricultural productivity.
Once again, I want to thank all of you for your confidence in Zimbabwe.
We are not there yet, but I can assure you, we will reclaim our rightful place as the bread-basket of SADC and a natural destination for investment.
Our natural resources and skills are key assets that make us the darling of world investors.
I can assure you that we are sorting out our politics which had clouded the investment climate and caused consternation to prospective investors.
The time for setting the base for a sound future for Zimbabwe is now.
Now is the time for looking at the prospect of investing in such a blessed country endowed with vast resources, a hard-working people and home to one of only seven wonders of the world; the majestic Victoria Falls.
I plead with you to be part of the Zimbabwe of the future.
I thank youPost published in: News