It is clear that this abandonment of the hard-core stance that had become synonymous with indigenisation is meant as a desperate, last-ditch, piece-meal strategy to convince investors to start pouring money into the country to rescue the moribund economy.
However, if it is investor confidence that Mugabe and his government are looking for, they are obviously not doing enough. They seem to have forgotten that one of the main reasons why they got into trouble with both local and international investors in the first place was that they showed a stubborn disrespect for property rights. So if they genuinely want to see economic recovery they must adopt a positive and holistic way of restoring and respecting property rights. There are no short cuts.
Widespread reports of the invasion of conservancies, farms and other properties have hit the headlines once again. Army officers, politicians and selfish individuals masquerading as war veterans are once again grabbing properties willy-nilly.
What is particularly disturbing about this is that the government does not seem to have the capacity to deal with the invaders, who seem to have developed a thick skin and now refuse to listen even to their senior leaders. No investors would want to risk their shareholders’ money investing in a country so obviously full of lawlessness. They do not want to risk their properties being seized at the drop of a hat.
The government, starting with the Head of State, must urgently address the problem of property rights. They have to deal with past offenders and put in place an effective mechanism to compensate those who have lost their properties in the past.
Even if they completely ditched the indigenisation policy, investors would still shun this country if there continued to be no guarantee that property rights would be respected in the future. The trouble is – nobody believes what they say any more. If they want people to take them seriously they have to ACT.Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga