Isdore Guvamombe Assistant Editor
Mozambique is hosting the US-Africa Business Summit and the indaba is being attended by several Heads of State and Government from Africa and captains of industry from across the spectrum.
The summit runs until June 21 and President Mnangagwa is attending.
The organiser, Corporate Council on Africa is the leading US business association focusing solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa.
CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as US and African firms.
The summit serves as a platform for African and US private sector and government representatives to engage on key sectors including agribusiness, energy, health, infrastructure, trade facilitation, ICT and finance; network with key private sector and government officials; explore new business opportunities, meet potential business partners; and forge new business deals.
It is important that delegates have been encouraged to help shape effective US-Africa trade and investment policies.
Since the last US-Africa Business Summit in 2017, the US administration and African governments have generally shown a renewed commitment to developing business-friendly initiatives and policies that foster greater economic engagement.
Another crucial take is that the summit is specifically designed to facilitate and elevate business-to-business and business-to-government engagement while addressing today’s most important challenges to investors in Africa by facilitating high-level roundtables, sector-focused discussions, as well as private meetings. Besides country forums discussing doing business in Africa, there will be countless opportunities to meet new business partners.
But for Zimbabwe, the summit comes at a time when the country is still reeling under sanctions illegally imposed by the US Government over a bilateral misunderstanding with Britain over the land reform. Suffice to say, the land reform itself was a necessary step meant to address historical land tenure imbalances that saw a little more than 4 000 white commercial farmers own 75 percent of the best land at the expense of millions of black people.
For Zimbabwe, again, the US–Africa Business Summit comes at a time when the European Union — another bloc of countries — that had long imposed sanctions on the country, siding with their member country Britain, have started officially talking to Zimbabwe on resolving problems in contention, albeit, Britain, the harbinger of sanctions making all efforts to exit EU.
Now the United States Government should critically use the business forum to see to itself that Zimbabwe has done so well to improve the lives of its people, while sanctions have contributed a lot to the suffering of people.
The sanctions remain an albatross around Zimbabwe’s business neck and will certainly have a telling effect on all the business deals Zimbabwe can come up with at the summit in Maputo.
The US Government should stop the big brother mentality. The US Government should stop being a bully. The US government should be sensitive to the plight of other smaller nations.
The US Government should be considerate to the needs of other countries. The US Government should stop financial and military might, to cow other nations into submission through sanctions.
Zimbabwe and the rest of African countries deserve respect and a chance to run their countries for the good of their people, without being hamstrung by sanctions. How do you judge a country’s performance when it is ‘restrictive measures’?
While attending the summit is good for a better understanding and possible business, the US should show goodwill by avoiding bully tactics.
The EU has at least shown that there is reason for fair and fruitful engagement with Zimbabwe, the US should also start the same in good faith.
There are a lot of fair play big economies in the world such as the BRICS countries and US should at least copy goodwill and genuine engagements. While EU is trying to resolve its problems with Zimbabwe, the US is continuously renewing sanctions.
On the other hand, the US brazenly supports the opposition in Zimbabwe, point for point, to the letter of each sentence. It is all good to have such summits, but it is equally good and beneficial to respect each country’s sovereignty and independence. It is fundamental to respect both Government and opposition and condemn each where it is wrong. It is bad politics and business to support an opposition party that burns and loot goods from shops whose business are struggling to survive under sanctions and still claim to be a harbinger of democracy, good governance and accountability.
The EU has done very well, to start officially talking to Zimbabwe and the US should learn from that initiative. Zimbabweans have suffered enough at the hands of sanctions and an opposition that burns and loots goods from the few businesses that have managed to survive under sanctions.
These businesses have helped ordinary citizens to survive. There were no similar concerns at the Russia-Africa Summit and there were indeed no such concerns at the Sino-Africa Summit.
Modern politics should have no place for bully tactics. Modern business should have no place for bully tactics.
Business is fair dealings.
Having said all this one hopes that the business aspect of the Summit in Mozambique will not be tainted by bad politics.