Taurai Mangudhla Senior Business Reporter—
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa leads a high-powered Zimbabwean delegation comprising Cabinet ministers, top Government officials and private sector representatives to Davos, Switzerland, for the 48th World Economic Forum annual meetings. The President’s itinerary indicates the delegation was scheduled to leave Harare at 4:30am today for the crucial meetings which kick off tomorrow.
This is President Mnangagwa’s first trip outside the continent since he took oath of office on November 24, and marks his commitment to international re-engagement with a bias towards Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. So far, President Mnangagwa has visited Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. The President is also expected to attend the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union on January 28 and 29 in Ethiopia.
The theme of the AU Summit is: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
President Mnangagwa is accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Hon, Lt-Gen (Rtd) Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Hon Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Dr Mike Bimha, Head of Europe and Americas Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa, Special Advisor to the President Dr Chris Mutsvangwa, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, Zimbabwe Investment Authority CEO Mr Richard Mbaiwa and other senior staffers in the President’s Office.
Minister Chinamasa and Dr Mangudya have been leading Zimbabwe’s debt clearance initiatives to multilateral lenders under the Lima plan while Minister Moyo has hit the ground running to head the country’s re-engagement process with a bias towards economic recovery and trade. From the private sector, President Mnangagwa travels with World Trade Organisation’s Dr Petina Gappah, Farmers’ Union’s Nicole van Persdone and other top business executives and leaders from industry lobby groups.
Officials who spoke to The Herald prior to the trip said President Mnangagwa was expected to be among the busiest men in Davos as he has more than 40 meetings lined up. These include the main session, breakaway sessions as well as other meetings with top political leaders, business leaders and civic society. The World Economic Forum’s 48th Annual Meeting brings together a record number of Heads of State, Government and international organisations alongside leaders from business, civil society, academia, the arts and media under the theme “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.
This year’s meeting focuses on reaffirming international cooperation on what have been described as shared interests such as international security, the environment and the global economy. Speaking at youth meeting in the capital last Thursday, President Mnangagwa said the Davos trip was an opportunity for his Government to mend relations with the world and market the country as a competitive investment destination.
“Yes, I have heard about Davos in the past, I understand this is a place where world leaders assemble, where the best brains in industry and commerce assemble, leaders of nations and think tanks of nations go and assemble there and exchange views. Of course where else would one want to be?” President Mnangagwa said.
He said Zimbabwe was now a new country with a different attitude. “I am an amateur, so I am going there to learn what is happening and to talk about my country that it is open for business. This is what we have for the future, that we want to relate, to guarantee those who can come and have business here that Zimbabwe will honour our part of obligations in relation to business.
“That Zimbabwe has transformed, Zimbabwe now says we want to be part of you, even those who have been against us in the past we are saying to them is there anything you would want us to do in order for you to move away from being hostile to being friendly? We are already friendly to you even if you are hostile, so why should you be hostile?”
Minister Chinamasa on Wednesday said the Davos trip was crucial to Zimbabwe’s new policy thrust. “In many of the ways we are seeking to attract (foreign direct investment) FDI. This is why the President will be going to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. This is basically to explain to the global players, we are not in the global economy and we need that platform to be able to explain that we are serious,” Minister Chinamasa said at a breakfast meeting in Harare.
“We want to re-enter the global economy and are serious about it. We want to be able to explain what we are doing, what our policies are and what we are going to do, including explaining the current challenges we are facing and how they can be resolved and I am looking forward to that visit,” he said.
“I will be in the delegation with the President and I believe the meeting will be fruitful and productive,” said Minister Chinamasa. Zimbabwe’s policy thrust after President Mnangangwa took oath of office in November is anchored on re-engagement with regional and international partners both economically and politically. So far, Government has announced commitment to compensate white farmers who lost land in the fast-track land reform and honour Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.