Why the new US administration should restore relations with Zimbabwe

Why the new US administration should restore relations with Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has all the ingredients to prosper — untapped human capital with one of Africa’s highest literacy rates, a rich mineral base and some of the best conditions for farming on the continent.

Zimbabwe has a huge and highly diversified mineral resource base with some of the world’s largest platinum and chrome reserves.

Zimbabwe is ranked among the top ten global producers of lithium. The true scale of Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth is one of the last great unknowns in the extractive sector with large deposits of gold, chrome, coal, tin, copper and natural gas yet to be fully explored.

Encouraging progress has been made in several areas by the Zimbabwean Government.

First, it has reformed the indigenisation policy by opening all sectors of the economy to foreign investors.

Second, the Government has made significant progress on agreeing compensation to disenfranchised farmers, moving much closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Mugabe-era.

Third, in the banking sector, new initiatives, including those to improve access to financial services for women and other marginalised groups, have removed some of the barriers to financial inclusion.

Women’s access to bank credit increased by 39 percent in the past few years and a first microfinance bank for women has opened.

Nearly all banks in Zimbabwe now have dedicated women’s desks to provide tailored products and services to cater to their specific needs.

Most of these gains have been unrewarded and unrecognised internationally.

The good news is that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have a great and experienced foreign policy team.

It would be an extremely positive step if the new President’s team make clear what is expected from the Government and help them to realise the tremendous potential of the people of Zimbabwe.

This could also clear up some of the misunderstandings or confusion. For example, the sanctions that exist today are on individuals, not on Zimbabwe as a country, though they act as a general deterrent to all foreign investors who fear falling foul of any regulations.

A productive US-Zimbabwe relationship makes sense on all levels. Zimbabwe is currently the US’s 174th largest trading partner with US$87 million in total goods traded during 2019.

This is a fraction of the vast economic opportunities to be realised and enjoyed by the United States and Zimbabwe.

By Marc Holtzman- a US citizen and chairman of Zimbabwe’s CBZ Holdings- for The Herald.



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