FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa says foreign investment can prosper in Zimbabwe contrary to reports that say otherwise. Minister Chinamasa said investors should, without delay, grab abundant investment opportunities in the country, as this was the right time to do so as Government now wanted to do a number of things differently.
Addressing over 300 delegates during The Herald Business Zimbabwe Trade and Investment breakfast meeting in Sandton, South Africa, last Friday, Minister Chinamasa said opportunities were enormous.
“Take them, this is the time to do it.”
“Please, we are open to any ideas, which produce wealth and contribute to our economic growth. We want to do things differently. People still think about us as in the past; that we are still mired in the trenches. We are out of the trenches,” Minister Chinamasa said.
Zimbabwe was rocked by a decade long economic meltdown, characterised by rampaging inflation, which decimated half the country’s gross domestic product and precipitated the collapse of several companies.
The meeting was punctuated by repeated calls from the minister, South African firm Get Bucks chief executive Dave van Niekerk, Canadian firm Caledonia director Stefan Hayden and SA hotelier Legacy Group Holdings,chairman Bart Dorrestein, for long-term, not short-term positions in Zimbabwe.
The executives, while citing indigenisation as an issue, generally agreed that Zimbabwe was open for investment and offered attractive opportunities.
“If Qatar can work, then I tell you that Zimbabwe can work a hundred times better,” said Mr Dorrestein, whose firm is hunting for assets in tourism. He hailed Zimbabwe’s human resources as a huge plus for the country.
Minister Chinamasa said Government was keen to improve the doing business environment and relied on investors to point out challenges they faced to help the authorities to assess how they were doing on policy matters.
“We rely on you to be predictable and consistent. Come to us with the challenges because they help us to improve the business environment,” he said.
“We will offer a predictable, clear and consistent policy environment in which you can come to invest and prosper,” Minister Chinamasa told the delegates.
The policy environment, said the minister, will be anchored on the multi-currency regime, predominantly characterised by the United States dollar. Importantly, the minister said Government will respect property rights.
Minister Chinamasa said a number of initiatives, including re-engaging bilateral and multilateral lenders, addressing doing business constraints, capacity issues of the central bank, issues plaguing banks and rigidities in the labour market among others were being pursued to enhance confidence.
Further, the Finance Minister said efforts were underway to establish special economic zones and ensure policy clarity, especially the country’s equity laws, which the majority of investors are have raised over the years.
Speaking at the same event, Reserve Bank Governor Dr John Mangudya said Zimbabwe was an excellent investment destination with good climate, open economy, huge resources, good human capital and is poised for take-off.
The RBZ chief said there was a lot of goodwill for Zimbabwe across the world and said the country needed to ride on the vibe to attract investment.
“The country is not about to collapse, the huge import bill should be seen as an opportunity because it shows the country has capacity to pay its obligations.
“The banking sector is sound; we have nine foreign and 12 indigenous banks. This shows that Zimbabwe is open to investment in the financial sector,” he said, adding foreign investors were free to repatriate 100 percent dividends.
Responding to journalists after the meeting, Minister Chinamasa also indicated that Government was cognisant of the fact that the country had numerous taxes that were affecting viability of most business. He said that Government was working hard to address the tax burden.
But he reckoned that businesses in Zimbabwe carried the hyperinflationary mentality post dollarisation, which raised the cost of doing business.
Minister Chinamasa said opportunities existed in various sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, mining, ICTs and social services while investors could also partner Government, especially in resources.