Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai today addressed an investment conference in Zimbabwe aimed at luring back investors into the country. Here is his address.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE M.R. TSVANGIRAI AT THE EURO MONEY INVESTMENT CONFERENCE,
HARARE 8-9 MARCH 2011
Deputy Prime Ministers Professor Mutambara and Hon Khupe
Government ministers here present
Your Worship, the Mayor of Harare, Mr.M. Masunda
Senior Government Offcials
Distinguished Guests and Invited Dignitaries
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to extend my appreciation to the Euro Money Conference organisers, the Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and the Minister of Finance in organising this Conference and inviting us to be part of the proceedings.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this conference is happening against a background of renewed economic confidence and revival as indicated by the increasing number of business and foreign delegations that are visiting the country to explore business opportunities. The recent visits by the Chinese and German delegations are a case in point.
I am informed that the objective of the Zimbabwe Investment Conference is to expose to the international investment community and local business people the vast investment opportunities that exist in our country and the reforms that have been enacted to improve the doing business environment.
Investment has a significant impact on economic growth. East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore registered sustained economic growth rates largely due to substantial foreign investment flows.
Zimbabwe can attain the same levels of growth if we put in place competitive policies to attract investment and we are globally compliant in the manner that we conduct business.
As a nation we cannot do it alone but we should put in place best international practices which bode well for attracting foreign direct investment.
This is the stark reality in view of the fact that FDI tends to be timid – it goes where it is needed and welcomed most. Very good foreign relations make an economic turnaround easier and quicker than a do-it-alone approach.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the formation of the inclusive government gave us the much needed political stability to bring back business confidence and investor interest in the country. It is important at a political level to support business by creating and introducing reforms that are essential for the growth of this country.
So much has been said of the abundant natural resources that our country is bestowed with as well as its hard working citizens. Unfortunately this has not translated into desired levels of economic growth and investment inflows largely due to policy inconsistencies and unpredictability.
Zimbabwe’s diamond wealth could translate to billions of dollars per year if this valuable asset is exploited transparently in line with regional best practices.
So far, about $300 million worth of diamonds has been sold and as a government, and in pursuit of transparency, we have asked the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Mines to reconcile their figures and come clean on the proceeds arising from the sale of these national resources.
I strongly believe that this could go a long way in solving our liquidity crisis, clearing part of our external debt of around US$7 billion and inducing increased capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector amongst a host of other economic challanges that exist.
I therefore call on all of us to work in unison in our policy formulation strategies. Otherwise the glaring policy inconsistencies and mixed messages from the inclusive government will turn investors away or they will simply adopt a wait-and-see attitude when in fact time is not on our side.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to note that there has been a marked improvement in the doing business environment in Zimbabwe with the launch of the One Stop Shop Investment Centre by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion in December last year.
This launch marked a giant step towards realising our shared vision of continually reforming the investment climate for the benefit of the would-be investor as well as keeping pace with international best practice.
On our part, we need to make sure that we consolidate the good things we have done so far to make ourselves an attractive investment destination. It behoves upon us to ensure that Zimbabwe is peaceful and free from violence; that we maintain peace and stability; that we respect the rule of law and that we respect and honour the BIPPAS we have signed.
A peaceful country without violence and without policy inconsistencies is a natural destination for investment. We will strive to ensure that our beloved country remains a firm favourite for serious investors so that we can create jobs and prosper the nation and its people.
During my recent visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum, I attended a session on Mines and minerals chaired by the esteemed chairperson of Anglo American plc, Cynthia Carroll. I was keen to find out what factors they considered before making multi-million dollar investments.
She told me that they considered political stability and policy predictability as key determinants ahead of any investment decision.
I think that there has been some movement in the restoration of political stability since the formation of the inclusive government in 2009. But over the last six months, there has been a lot of mixed messages and hype arising out of misplaced election talk.
I want to assure you that we will ensure that before we hold that election, there is a clear roadmap with clearly defined benchmarks to ensure a free and fair election.
I am glad that the President, the region and I, are all agreed that we have to follow the GPA processes to ensure a credible poll. This means there is no need for anxiety among both Zimbabweans and investors about being ambushed with an election that has no preconditions and that is not in line with the dictates of the GPA.
On policy predictability, we have said that we should not criminalise investment. The Indigenisation programme has caused so much consternation amongst investors. But there is no government policy to nationalise or to expropriate.
All we want is that ordinary Zimbabweans should be empowered and not a few elite. While 51 percent is aspirational, we have agreed that there should be thresholds for each sector so that we balance between the business interests of investors and the need to empower and ensure that ordinary Zimbabweans participate in the mainstream economy.
As a government, we also want to normalise relations with the international community. There has been speculation on my position as Prime Minister on the issue of sanctions.
We should not attempt to score cheap political points over issues that are clear. We agreed in the GPA that we would all work towards normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.
For the record, I was the first person to engage Europe and the United States, at the expense of my political reputation at home and abroad, to convince them that Zimbabwe had turned the corner since the formation of the inclusive government. I tried to assure them that we would stick to our own agreement and that the culture of violence and impunity had long gone.
I was later to find out that I was wrong and that while we all wanted the sanctions lifted, some did not want to let go of the culture of violence that had brought these measures in the first place.
The US and the EU were sceptical and had concerns over continued human rights abuses and non-implementation of the GPA.
Suffice to say that while some of us were working hard to normalise relations, there was a deliberate effort by some players to ensure that we failed to implement other agreed obligations as enshrined in the GPA on matters such as the cessation of hate speech, State sponsored violence, media reforms and the culture of impunity, among others.
This made it difficult for those of us who were working towards normalisation of relations. It is difficult to convince the world that you have turned the corner when others are perpetuating the same culture of violence in the countryside; the same culture and behaviour that brought us where we are.
Our own Minister of Tourism, Hon Walter Mzembi, can testify to the difficulty of convincing a sceptic world when others are stabbing your effort in the back. In January this year, Hon Mzembi was in Madrid, Spain, marketing Zimbabwe as a safe tourist destination when reports were splashed all over the world that thugs had violently invaded a lakeside resort near Harare.
In short, no section in the GPA is more important than the other and we must invest the same effort on sanctions as we invest in other important issues such as media reforms, non-violence and respect for the rule of law if we are to build a safe environment for business and investment.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is common knowledge that our industry is operating below capacity, infrastructure needs upgrading and energy output levels cannot sustain projected economic growth. I consider these gaps as opportunities for new investors to exploit.
I am encouraged by the scope of discussions to be held during this Conference and look forward to new business partnerships being created in order to move our economy forward.
Finally we take pride as a nation to be able to hold such a prestigious Conference graced by renowned international guests and current and potential investors.
I declare the conference open and wish you well in your deliberations.
I thank you.