Nick Mangwana View From Diaspora
This is the time to invest in Zimbabwe. There is no real substantive risk to this investment but that which is macro-economic. But will the restive Zimbabwe Diaspora community they will engage with agree?
In two weeks there is going to be a coterie of Zimbabwean Government ministers and captains of industry and leaders of commerce gracing England seeking investment and joint venture opportunities.
Ministers, Simon Khaya Moyo (also the ruling Zanu-PF spokesperson), Mike Bimha and Dr Obert Mpofu, are scheduled to form the core of the delegation.
Of course there is still that small business of visas. This is time to see whether that legacy of EU sanctions will continue to rear its ugly head as has been surreptitiously happening when those who were once on that infamous list made applications to come to the UK.
Some have faced four months delay and missed family graduations and weddings. Some were denied altogether despite all the noise of there being no “special measures” against Zimbabwe. But should everything go smoothly then this conference will be a good opportunity to continue to reach out to the rest of the world to build synergistic and symbiotic relationships for the benefit of all parties.
The programme is set in such a way that sectoral leaders will make their presentations and then question and answer sessions will follow. The political leaders will also make their presentations and other questions and answer sessions will follow as well.
If one would place a wager, then it is a winner to bet on someone asking a question about the internecine, mutually destructive fights within zanu-PF and those within Government especially at Cabinet level and how it is destabilising the investment and economic environment. The wording of the question can vary but the seemingly impertinent question is certainly going to be asked. The answer to this question might be a mumbled rhetoric or an articulate, honest but politically risky and at the same time economically healthy admission; “yes the infighting in zanu-PF and Government is retarding economic growth.
There is inextricable interconnectedness between political stability and economic growth. If the instability is in an institution like zanu-PF that straddles almost everything about Zimbabwe, it predictably gives an impression of an unstable Zimbabwe, albeit a false one. But then impressions and perceptions have more influence on people than ideologies and manifestos.
There is a positive correlation between predictability and confidence, which then translate into investment and economic growth. Investors divide their plans into short term, medium term and long term. This is based on their ability to have an idea of what tomorrow holds and so they invest on that tomorrow. If they cannot tell what tomorrow has in store for them they will hold back until there is enough information to shape their decision. The longer the horizon of predictability, the more likely an investor would invest. The inverse is also correct. There is a fatal angle to what they can possibly do when faced with a situation of political volatility and unpredictability; take their money elsewhere. All risk algorithms say the less the information, the higher the risk.
When there is infighting in a very big political party such as zanu-PF is to Zimbabwe, that is an undeniably regressive. As expected, this may make an uncomfortable reading to some people in the organisation to which this columnist belongs but hey, if you don’t like what you see in the mirror; fix your face and leave the mirror alone!
In that room and the London Law firm of Stephenson Harwood on September 22, people are going to hear about the beauty of Zimbabwe. That is not propaganda. They will agree. They will hear of the mineral endowment in its belly. That also will be no lie. They will hear about a good infrastructural base that needs touch ups and an improvement in upkeep. Another gospel truth. They will ask about corruption and they will be quoted a lot of resolutions pointing to a desire to fighting this vice. One would start from the Election Manifesto, move on to the Chinhoyi Conference resolutions, then to the 6th People’s Congress Resolutions and finally to the Ten-Point-Plan. At this point some will be cynical and start wondering why with all that acknowledgement of how much corruption retards economic development people keep on making resolutions instead of a tangible Zero Tolerance approach. At this point cynicism might start creeping in. For the audience will conclude that they have heard all the talk. Their attention can only be retained if they are given a lot figures of arrests and prosecutions. Only this will restore the belief that there is political will to fight the rot. Without that, the too risk averse fund manager or economic agent might start stuttering with hesitation. The polite one would just start doodling. The impetuous one would almost scream, “ Get your act together !” This might annoy but would such a shout be wrong when instead of fighting corruption people fight each other much to the detriment of a lot? But you know what? We need to get our act together. Of course that said by a foreigner, it’s annoying. That said by the opposition, might be contemptible. That said by one of your own, please stop and reflect. For the intentions here are those that are said to have paved the road to hell. Because these intentions are noble.
There is no economic model, no theorem and no investment algorithm or even sanctions busting contrivance that would go against this truth. Sometimes perpetual revolutionary activities cannibalise productive economic activities. Whatever is causing this, those trusted to govern our country are called upon to take note and corrective action. The propensity for zanu-PF to in-fight has grievous consequences for the economy.
Honourable Ministers Bimha, Khaya Moyo and Dr Mpofu when they make their presentations and answer questions will also be delicately navigating through the perilous waters that is zanu-PF politics. One hopes they all know that they will be there tomorrow in those same portfolios and therefore can make long term policy pronouncements pertaining to their respective portfolios. They should also exude enough infectious confidence to inspire a sceptical audience to tune onto the same frequency with them. But how can they when some are worried that by the time they get home, maybe the infamous ‘Vote of No Confidence’ would have circulated somewhere in their home provinces?
This is the time to invest in Zimbabwe. There is no real substantive risk to this investment but that which is macro-economic. But will the restive Zimbabwe Diaspora community they will engage with agree? What’s the best way of rebuking one’s own leaders that their pursuit of parochial political interests is a malaise harmful to economic performance of the country and therefore the party they purport to serve and more importantly the people that trusted them with their mandate to lead them to a better life? What is the best way of reminding them that sustainable economic growth is only assured in a political set up where there is a consistent political message, where a Government is showing a congruent united front? Zimbabweans are aware that what they see on Twitter and other social media platforms might just be a little fore-taste of the actual serious tensions in Cabinet. Investors are aware of the same thing too. If a Government has collective responsibility through the Cabinet, and that same Cabinet has differences that have a Twitter overspill, will that not dent the confidence that is needed to bring stability to the economic environment and therefore retard economic growth?
No matter how much writers, bloggers and analysts would shout that some of the key selling points of Zimbabwe are its peacefulness and stability, that is an exercise in futility as long there are clear tensions in its executive arm as exemplified by senior cabinet colleagues lampooning each other on social media and other clandestine media briefings against each other. There is no better definition of state anarchy (madhisinyongoro) than that. And to think this is the leadership that should take collective responsibility for a consistent policy formulation and implementation, for a consistent message out there that all is well. The stability of a country is reflected by the stability of its Government.
Some of these things do not need sophisticated indices such as the Polity Scale or the Stability Index. It needs common sense in leadership. A Cabinet that shows fault-lines is indicative of a weak Government. A weak Government is an unstable Government. People do not invest in a country with an unstable political environment. Those that do, they do it on their terms because they have leverage since they hold all the aces. And the worst deals are those that are made from a position of weakness or desperation. One has to be aware that those who are rich did not become rich through altruism. They have high attuned radar to sense a weakness and therefore an advantage. They would zone and capitalise on it. That weakness is only discernible through these public spats at both Government and party level.
The people of Zimbabwe did not vote in a Government to provide them with entertainment. They know where to go for amusement. They did not vote in the Government to provide them with excuses. They voted in a Government to provide them with dignity, a decent living and a future they are happy to bring children into without the apprehension that one is bringing forth another human being to a condemned to a life of suffering and striving. Zimbabwe is rich enough to excite investors. It has so much potential as people are always told. But the self-defeating internecine fights between those that govern the country fails to inspire the nation. How can they then inspire an investor who has other options to take his capital to?
This is one where a cry of “Stop It!” would certainly be apt.