EDITORIAL COMMENT: The signing is done, now to implementation

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Mr Denis Manturov exchange  Memorandum Of Understanding documents after a signing ceremony in Harare.— (Picture by Munyaradzi Chamalimba)

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Mr Denis Manturov exchange Memorandum Of Understanding documents after a signing ceremony in Harare.— (Picture by Munyaradzi Chamalimba)

THROUGH the mega deals with China and Russia, Government has proved its ability to attract investment by signing deals which unlocked commitment more than anything else.
There is no doubt that the country is in need of Foreign Direct Investment as the only available revenue source for Government (the domestic market) is slowly wearing away.

A lot has been said about these mega deals; misinterpretations at most, the usual “so-what” from some, but overall what was clear was the willingness by the two countries to participate in Zimbabwe’s recovery efforts, never mind their reasons.

Russia has seen opportunities in natural resources while China is committed to funding mega infrastructure deals. This can only mean that Zimbabwe has to benefit from economic spin-offs through close proximity with the world’s best.

Now that the business deals have been signed and launched, the next stage is to ensure implementation on the ground.

The sceptics have already started casting the deals off as “pies in the sky” and the only way to silence them is to see work on the ground.

People must begin to be employed from the communities surrounding these projects. Production must start in the shortest possible time. Government unfortunately does not have time on its hands. The deals must start contributing to the economy sooner rather than later. We do not want another New-Zim Steel project which drags on for many years before we start seeing the rewards.

Investors are not a very patient lot. They work with profit targets and timelines. If projects seem to drag for too long they lose interest and move elsewhere. Implementation must now be the buzz word. In as much as we understand that implementation cannot happen overnight but at least there must be work on the ground that begins to feed the national economy.

The US$3 billion investment in the Darwendale platinum mining, once operational sets Zimbabwe high on the list of leading platinum producers in the world.

Work must now be on the ground more than the boardrooms. We hope those tasked with implementation will burn the midnight candle to ensure smooth implementation.

Government should clear the legal hurdles. Where legislation is required, it must be speeded up through Parliament. We cannot have legislation on the cards for ages.

While these projects are being implemented we must also not relax because these projects alone are not going to solve all our challenges. This is why it is critical for business to take advantage of the networks that have been established by these new deals.

It is our responsibility to ensure that these projects come to fruition and that through them we build other networks that open more doors for business.

While the Government has taken the lead in engaging China, Russia, the IMF and other economic centres, the business community and the Zimbabweans themselves must shoulder some responsibility.

The business community should take advantage of the new avenues created.

The deals signed with China and Russia are not the beginning and the end. These are just stepping stones which must be used to engage the business community in the nations we have befriended already.

It is a fact that not every business will benefit from these developments but it is also a fact that these deals open Russia and China to us. Business must therefore develop bankable projects and use the networks that the President has created for us.

There is room to clinch more business deals from these nations riding on the current wave.

We have only ourselves to blame if the country does not develop from now on given the impetus the projects will do to the economy. It will be absurd if we are to remain where we are, in debt and with struggling industry, when we have the world’s economic powers within reach.

We must receive some traction from this proximity.

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