Mnangagwa’s big lie – Zimbabwe is not open for business says Cross


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Zimbabwe cannot be 'open for business' unless we get our run away budget deficit under control and back to more acceptable levels – say 5 per cent of GDP. That will require reducing the Civil Service by trimming all irregular posts (about 150 000 people), eliminating all ghost workers and making sure everyone who is paid actually has a job and work to do. Unless this happens, inflation will continue to rear its ugly head and destroy value. Investors would be well advised to keep their money out of the country until we have fiscal and monetary stability. Right now, that is not the case.

Zimbabwe cannot be 'open for business' until we abandon the policies of the past which have created a Reserve Bank monster that steals money in broad daylight and destroys value with exchange controls and corrupt practices. We need to give the Reserve Bank total freedom from the Government, appoint a Board of Directors and management that knows what they are doing and will play the game according to sound, internationally accepted rules and principles. We must abandon all forms of exchange control, allow the private banks to manage their client's money in their best interests and leave the assumptions of value to the market.

Zimbabwe cannot be 'open for business' unless we resolve the liquidity crisis by curbing the State's appetite for consumption on credit and introduce our own currency managed by a Currency Board or some similar institution which will strictly control the printing press and the computer key boards of the Central Bank. Those who are horrified at the very thought of a new currency must simply ask themselves, if Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia can do it, why can it not be done here? Of course, it can – IF you follow the rules.

Zimbabwe cannot be 'open for business' unless we take the rule of law seriously and imprint on everyone's mind the principles and values embedded in our Constitution. If the Constitution is the supreme law, then so be it – without exception, and the games that this Government has played with the Constitution – treating it as if it was 'just another piece of paper', must stop. Contracts must be respected, property rights treated as sacrosanct, freedom of association and opinion must be fully respected in every sphere.

We are not 'open for business' when the President and the Minister of Mines sign a deal they flag as being a 'US$4,2 billion investment in platinum' when the land being associated with the deal is already part of a mining right in the balance sheet of another major investor who is already here and has already spent billions. Signing deals with shady people, with a poor record in other countries and are known as people who seek to simply exploit rather than invest, is a dumb thing to do anywhere – but especially here when we are so vulnerable to the Lear Jet brigade.

We are not 'open for business' when Gaika Mine, a Canadian investment backed by Chinese money, is invaded in broad daylight by gangs of thugs who proceed to beat up the staff and begin mining illegally, in the process killing two people who were victims of uncontrolled blasting on site. We are not 'open for business' when senior army or police officers or Civil Servants – especially those in the most senior posts, invade farms at will and defy instructions to leave these enterprises alone. Abuse of property rights is one and the same for all forms of property – urban or rural, industrial or mining. Until we can guarantee an investor (from anywhere) that if they invest in property for productive purposes, they will be given protection by the State if those rights are placed in jeopardy, we cannot possibly expect anyone, local or foreign to invest in Zimbabwe.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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